A journallike text paired with detailed illustrations recounts the day-to-day life of a praying mantis.
Born in the springtime and mature in the summer, P. Mantis’ diary entries are laced with a dry humor as she recounts such adventures as shedding her skin, eating her siblings and other insects, nearly being eaten by another sibling, and enjoying the great outdoors before laying her eggs and lying down to “take a long nap” in the fall. The wry, first-person voice (“I ate one of my brothers. Okay, maybe two”) seems a bit at odds with the beautiful acrylic paintings. Lush, colorful illustrations that present riots of leaves and blooms that initially capture the eye reveal garden violence on closer inspection as readers finally zero in on the protagonist chowing down on a sibling, headfirst. Their immediate loveliness may have readers wondering whether perhaps a more cartoonish style would be a better fit for the text, akin to Harry Bliss and Doreen Cronin’s Diary of a Worm (2003). This general criticism aside, there’s much to appreciate about this fact- and humor-laden picture book, including its front and back endpapers, which are jammed with information about praying mantises.
Though the rather jarring juxtaposition of text and art styles keeps it from being totally awesome, this is a fun and fascinating read. (Picture book. 6-8)