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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ladybugs, written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons. Holiday House, Thomas Allen & Son. 2012. $19.95 ages 5 and up

"Ladybugs can be many different colors and sizes. Some are as small as the head of a pin. Others are as large as a child's fingernail. Most are some size in between."

So far, any ladybugs that might be in the vicinity have escaped my observations this spring. I'll have to keep my eyes open for them to make an appearance. Then, I'll know that the aphids are in trouble!

After introducing her young audience to this tiny beneficial beetle, Gail Gibbons goes on to give aspiring scientists exactly the right amount of facts to inform, but not overwhelm. She is awfully good at doing just that in much of her nonfiction. Once the introduction is complete, she moves forward to let us know about the body of this particular member of a family that boasts '5,000 different kinds of beetles around the world, with 475 different types' right here where we live. Amazing!

We see the ladybug from the side, the top and then follow it as it advances from egg to adult in four stages. Each stage of its life cycle is described and illustrated with detail to make it easily understood.
The captions and labels are very useful in guiding us as we read around the pages gathering information and always learning more.

Once it is an adult, the ladybug faces some trying times and teaches its predators important lessons.:

"When a ladybug is attacked, its leg joints ooze a yellow fluid. It has a terrible smell that keeps enemies away. A ladybug will also pretend to be dead, and then the predator will lose interest."

Familiar to all Gail Gibbons fans are the impressively constructed pages, using all available space to give her readers a very clear picture of the information being shared. She is a consummate researcher and uses her talent for detail to enhance each page of this highly accessible book. Inviting and full of little known information about this fairly common beetle, I learned a lot as will those children with whom it is shared. Bold colors, a lively design, carefully chosen changes in perspective and a healthy collection of close-up views will encourage close observation and the occasional touch.

Bravo, Ms. Gibbons!

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