1. Ten Little Caterpillars, Bill Martin Jr., illus. Lois EhlertYou would think that with such a team as Bill Martin Jr. and Lois Ehlert, I would have heard about this book sooner, but I read it for the first time only a couple weeks ago. And it promptly received stamps of approval from all of us.
It's a simple book, as you might expect from Martin and Ehlert. It follows the activities of ten different caterpillars--from the melon bed to a little child's glass jar to the apple tree.
The text is short enough that Bradley (18-months-old) can easily sit and listen to it, but the illustrations encourage so much learning and exploring for Maxwell (3 years old) and Aaron (4.5 years old). For example, "the second little caterpillar wriggled up a flower." This page features four different kinds of flowers: delphinium, gaillardia, foxglove, and snapdragon (I didn't know their names, but the book told me). There is a caterpillar crawling up the snapdragon, and if you flip to the back of the book, you learn that that is a buckeye caterpillar, and he likes to eat snapdragon leaves (hmmm...probably that's why he was climbing up that plant!). There's also a picture of what he will look like when he turns into a butterfly.
There are little details like that for all the caterpillars, and Aaron loves studying what they look like as caterpillars and what they look like when they turn into butterflies or moths. This is exactly the kind of information I wished had been included in the Creepy Creatures series I talked about yesterday. If you're looking for a book that's very adaptable for younger or older children, this is the one.
2. Ant, Ant, Ant! (An Insect Chant), April Pulley Sayre, illus. Trip ParkGet your Cub Scout voice on because this book will make you want to clap and stomp and shout and...you know...act like a Cub Scout (trust me, I speak from experience).
Let me give you a little taste of the intoxicating rhythm of this book: "May Beetle, June Beetle, Corn Beetle, Click. Woolly Bear, Water Strider, Walking Stick." It's actually really creative considering that very few words are added besides the actual names of the bugs. Who knew you could get White-lined Sphinx and Painted Lady Butterfly to fit into a toe-tapping, foot-stomping chant? But it works.
Even this one is fairly educational. Besides giving the names of the insects within the chant, at the back of the book there's a glossary with more information and facts about each bug.
The illustrations are not very life-like. They're very cartoonish in appearance, so they may or may not help you identify the real thing. However, they are fun (and also funny).
I only have one word for this book: GORGEOUS.
But in case one word isn't sufficient, how about captivating, enchanting, beautiful, breathtaking, vibrant, or awe-inspiring? Because any of those will work, too.
Um, no, we didn't just enter the twilight zone, and yes, we are still talking about bugs.
Out of all six books I've mentioned, this one is probably the most artistic and expressive in nature. The text is limited to a beautiful poem, which includes in part: Step gently out, be still, and watch a single blade of grass. And along with those beautiful words are stunning images. Really, truly stunning. If I had known bugs could look like that, I would not have been so quick to judge and label them as "nasty" and "gross."
I love this book because it strips away all the facts and details and definitions and just lets each insect stand out as an incredible creation of God. As much as I love learning (and once again, I am grateful this book has a little glossary in the back), sometimes it's nice just to be able to gaze in wonder and awe at the little beauties that are all around us...if we only look at them in the right way.
There is one photograph I especially love of a tree branch and spider web encrusted with tiny beads of morning dew; they look like diamonds. I have actually stared at that picture for several minutes. Sometimes I can't believe what a beautiful world we live in.
I shared this post with The Children's Bookshelf and the Kid's Co-op.