Monday, July 25, 2011

Not a Buzz to be Found: Insects in Winter by Linda Glaser

Not a Buzz to be Found: Insects in Winter

Written by Linda Glaser; Illustrated by Jaime Zollars
Millbrook Press, 2011
ISBN 9780761356448
Reviewer was given this copy by the publisher.

There are so few outstanding science books aimed at young children, ages 4-7, that I got really excited when I saw this at Lerner booth while attending the ALA Annual Conference in July.

Glaser’s science book attempts to answer the question:  What happens to insects in winter? The book explores the winter habits of twelve familiar insects: Black Swallowtail Butterfly, Bald-faced Hornet, Field Cricket, Gallfly, Ant, Common Pondhawk Dragonfly, Praying Mantis, Mourning Cloak Butterfly, Honeybee, Ladybird Beetle (Ladybug), Wooly Bear Caterpillar (Isabella Tiger Moth), and Monarch Butterfly.

The poetic text is brief and unscientific as it explains where each insect spends the summer. 

“What if you were a woolly bear caterpillar? You’d hide under a
blanket of snow or leaves. Someday you’d turn into a moth with wings. But in winter, you’d curl up and sleep, sleep, sleep.”

The text is paired with illustrations by Jaime Zollars that cover every inch of the double-page spreads. Zollars paintings are colorful and have a magical quality to them that children will find appealing. She fills her pictures with happy youngsters engaged in familiar activities: playing in the leaves, skating on a pond, and sledding down a snow-covered hill.  The different activities also act as a seasonal timeline. I especially liked the way Zollars showed us what was happening above and below the ground.

At every turn of the page, children are invited to look closely to find the sleeping insects mentioned in the text. For the Ladybird Beetle, we see a pair of red rubber boots walking across a fallen log in the woods the forest floor is strewn with colored leaves.  Now look closely. Tucked beneath that rotten log all huddled together are thousands of sleeping ladybugs.

“If you were a ladybird beetle, you’d hide under logs or leaves and huddle with thousands of others.  You’d barely move or breathe.”

Problems: Overall, I like the concept of this book more than I liked its design. For example, I had problems with the font. At times the color blended in with the illustrations, making it difficult to read.

Labeling the sleeping insects would have been nice to reassure some of us that we had found the right hiding place. It was especially challenging to locate the crickets eggs buried under ground. In that picture two children are throwing snowballs and directly underneath them are little white dots. I thought the white dots were the snow from the snowball fight, not the cricket eggs.

The book does include scientific information.  Unfortunately, it is placed at the back of the book instead of on the insect’s page.

3 Stars
Note: Look on your shelves. You might own Glaser’s four book picture book series, I Love the Seasons! published by Millbrook Press, 2001-2003. Using rhyming text, each book is a general overview of a specific season. Susan Swan’s cut-paper illustrations are lovely. Some of the illustrations in It’s Winter are very similar to Not a Buzz to be Found: Insects in Winter.

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