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A DRAGON IN THE SKY by Laurence Pringle


The Story of a Green Darner Dragonfly

by Laurence Pringle & illustrated by Bob Marstall

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-531-30315-2
Publisher: Orchard

The author of many fine science titles here presents the saga of a dragonfly, born in a swamp in upstate New York and destined to travel to Florida to fertilize eggs and die. The birth, growth, and development of this deceptively delicate creature is told in language both clear and lyrical, following a single egg from hatching to protonymph, through many molts to mature nymph, and finally to adulthood. There are enemies at every turn: frogs, salamanders, spiders, birds, and fish to name only a few; it’s a marvel that any dragonfly survives. The detail of the text is awesome; for example, the dragonfly nymph has a deadly lower lip, nearly a third the length of the entire nymph. It can shoot out with lightning speed in 25 thousandths of a second, to grasp and capture a prey, then fold up on its hinge when not in use. The illustrator does an outstanding job of showing close-up details of tiny specialized features such as the unique pattern of veins in the dragonfly wings that scientists use to distinguish one species from another. The author concludes with directions for capturing and caring for a dragonfly nymph, books for further reading, Web sites of interest, and an index. Readers who follow the journey of Anax, a lone green darner dragonfly, will gain an appreciation for a most remarkable creature. This is a worthy companion to Pringle’s An Extraordinary Life: The Story of the Monarch Butterfly. (1997). (Nonfiction. 9-12)