Larger-than–life-size paintings, intricate drawings and a chatty, informative text combine to introduce the world of insects and spiders, “the largest biomass on Earth.”
Displaying his own boundless sense of wonder, Arnosky draws on personal experiences to attract his audience, describing a mayfly hatch in a trout-filled pond, a lady beetle that crashed near his woodstove, a yellow-striped grasshopper seen in the Everglades and more. The naturalist covers an astonishing variety—mayflies and dragonflies, beetles and bugs, caterpillars, moths and butterflies, grasshoppers and their relatives, bees, wasps, ants, flies and spiders. The information he provides is necessarily limited, but he’s chosen facts likely to appeal. Short chapters are organized into familiar groups and separated by six fold-out pages (two are gate-folds) full of examples. Gorgeous, carefully crafted paintings show tiny details and often include a creature’s habitat. The magnification is usually given, and silhouettes show actual size. Labeled pencil drawings add further detail and make comparisons. Although the author differentiates between a cocoon and a chrysalis, he does not clarify that calling the latter a cocoon as well is erroneous. He includes solid suggestions for further reading. A table of contents makes the organization clear, but an index would have been helpful.
This is another splendid invitation to children to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-10)