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18 Real Bugs That Smash, Zap, Hypnotize, Sting, and Devour!

by Kate Messner ; illustrated by Jillian Nickell

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-4521-3910-4
Publisher: Chronicle Books

The insect world is buzzing with superpowers!

Jumping on the superhero bandwagon, Messner and Nickell bring readers a fascinating and fun read that is heavy on action but light on the details. Designed like a graphic novel, the book introduces 18 insects that have extraordinary abilities. Along the way, readers learn about the biological classification system and a sampling of insect orders. Nickell’s illustrations keep the pages turning, as insects are presented as the superheroes (or supervillains) of the book: “The Decapitator” (also known as the Asian giant hornet) is surrounded by action lines and has thunderbolts of power emanating from its viselike mandibles. Other details, such as the benday dots backgrounding the yellow information boxes, create a subtle nod to comic books of old. Messner’s text flows smoothly in this action-packed format but suffers from its lack of space, and this compression may cause confusion, as when the text on the yam hawk moth vacillates between the generic and the specific. Other editorial choices are less than pleasing. The first scientific name mentioned includes a phonetic pronunciation guide, but none of the others do. The backmatter is anemic, consisting of a seven-book, two-website bibliography. Based on the format, the book will be popular, but be ready to recommend supplemental titles to readers who expect more than cursory information.

As flashy as a butterfly but needs a swarm of support.

(Graphic nonfiction. 8-12)