PRAYING MANTIS: The Garden Dinosaur by Gladys Conklin

PRAYING MANTIS: The Garden Dinosaur

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My mother bought a praying mantis egg case at the plant nursery. I tied it on a bush in our backyard."" And so, adopting the voice of a young observer, Conklin describes how the new mantises emerge, how they catch and eat insects and how they look in the process (true to the very young viewpoint, she explains the ""praying"" posture without the usual reference to ""preying""), how they shed their skin, mate, and--completing the circle--lay eggs. The female's post-coital cannibalism is not observed directly but merely reported as something that can happen if the male is not quick enough; Rounds' illustration is similarly discreet, showing only the victim's remains--dry wings and legs--left behind on the ground. Elsewhere, Rounds wastes no space with pictures of the narrator but concentrates on the observed mantises, who look out at us expectantly when not engaged in a basic life process. In an appended note, Conklin talks about keeping and feeding a mantis, advising that ""it's important to have a female"" as the male does not ""make friends"" like she does. (One thing she does not mention and might have--or else scrapped the subtitle--is why the praying mantis is called the ""garden dinosaur."") A very first, affectionate look, in pictures that will snare beginning readers and words that won't trip them up.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1978
Publisher: Holiday House