In poems written especially for this humorously illustrated collection, 16 versatile poets describe 16 different, mostly familiar and certainly unwelcome insects.
“Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! / Uck! Uck! Uck!” From stink bugs to giant water bugs, with nods to agricultural pests, creatures that bite or sting and those that prefer our waste, Hopkins and his fellow poets celebrate the pests among us. Contributors include many whose names will be familiar to readers of children’s poetry. From free verse to tight rhyme and rhythm, the forms are as diverse as the insects described. As in any collection, the poems vary in strength, but for read-aloud or choral presentation, many will have both audience and performer appeal. Terry’s smooth, vividly colored paintings, mostly double-page spreads underlying the poems, add to the fun. These bright illustrations exaggerate his anthropomorphized subjects’ bug-eyes, sharp teeth and pincers. But there’s some genuine information as well, both in the poetry and in the backmatter, which includes each creature’s scientific name or order, a thumbnail and a few words from the poem and an additional factual paragraph (which strains, sometimes, to include the titular “nasty”).
As the bedbug says, “absolutely / deeee licious”; a delightful introduction for audiences not quite ready for Douglas Florian’s Insectlopedia (1998) or Joyce Sidman’s Song of the Water Boatman, illustrated by Beckie Prange (2005). (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)