A picture book that capers with joy in the buggy natural world.
With minimal words cajoled into loose rhyme—they have just enough structure to hold their own within the sprawling illustrations—each page of this ebullient book introduces a different bug’s proclivity (“Some bugs STING. Some bugs BITE”) while a small ladybug saunters past, serving as a cohesive visual element. (“Bug” is loosely construed to include many insects and arachnids.) The mixed-media illustrations play with form and white space, while the artistic-license black-and-white eyes of all the bugs cleverly draw readers’ gazes toward them, encouraging close examination. The second-to-final spread—a long shot—reveals to readers that the earlier illustrations in the book are actually close-ups of a single backyard. This visual surprise encourages the friendly accessibility of readers’ own backyards as habitats to explore. Only one jarring note disturbs the joyful tone of this book, and that is the indirect permission it gives to readers to capture these critters. As there is no textual exhortation to take care and let the creatures go after examining them, adults will need to underscore this independently.
Deceptively simple, with innovative illustrations and a catchy narrative, this book adeptly supplies information, a sense of accessibility, close looking and joie de vivre. (Picture book. 2-5)