The author of more than 100 children’s books looks closely at a familiar creature.
Naming but not otherwise anthropomorphizing this stealthy survivor, Pringle follows Bella the woolly bear through a “jungle of grasses, clovers, and wild flowers,” weaving in information about her food and feeding, body parts and life stages. She’s rejected by a predatory blue jay and aided across a road by a helping hand. After finding a good winter hiding place among stones, the bristly red-and-black caterpillar curls up into a cocoon, molts one last time into a pupa and finally turns into an adult Isabella tiger moth. In extensive backmatter, Pringle refutes the myth that woolly bear caterpillars predict the severity of the coming winter. Words like setae and crochets, names for the insect’s body parts, are italicized in context and defined in a glossary. Paley’s colorful cut-paper and mixed-media illustrations show off Bella and her neighbors nicely. The plants and flowers are generic, but the animals are identifiable. The caterpillar’s size can be judged against an illustration of a leaf and part of a human hand, but an actual measurement or scale would have been useful in the final diagram.
Straightforward and informative. (Informational picture book. 5-9)