*The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

*The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, 40 pages

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: ages 4-8 and up (especially boys)

Bottom Line: Gorgeous illustrations and tons of “fun facts” make this the ultimate beetle book.

Beetles rule.  They dominate the insect world with over 350,000 species named (and many more waiting to be discovered), but in creation generally they dominate by sheer numbers: “Line up every kbeetleind of plant and animal on earth . . . and one in every four will be a beetle.”  We’re told that “Beetles evolved about 230 million years ago—around the same time as the dinosaurs,” but even if you’re slightly skeptical of that estimation there’s plenty in this oversize, breathtakingly-illustrated volume for bug-lovers to love.  Have you ever seen a giraffe weevil?  Do you know the life stages of a ladybug?  Guess what dung beetles eat!  (Aw—you guessed.)  Did you know that lightning bugs are technically beetles?  And a few do useful work? (Hide beetles eat dead flesh, which makes them ideal for cleaning bones in natural history museums–no kidding!) 

The silhouettes used throughout the book show actual sizes, from the tiny clown beetle to the ginormous titan (the size of a human hand—ick).  Some of these pictures, like the close-up of the six-spotted green tiger beetle, are not for the faint-hearted.  But as I mentioned, bug-lovers, especially of the male variety, could be happily occupied for hours.

Cautions: Worldview (evolutionary perspective)

Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3
  • Artistic value: 4.5

Categories: Picture Books, Middle Readers, Nonfiction, Science, Animals

 

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Janie Cheaney

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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