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Monday, July 24, 2017

Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs, written by Carol Murray and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2017. $24.99 ages 3 and up

"Just Jumping Spider!

The jumping spider
has a handy-dandy
way to travel.

He spins and winds
a silky thread,
and lets it all unravel."

If you are looking to find books to read in your classroom, or at home, that have a scientific bent, this one will be perfect for you. It's poetry, to boot!

There are 29 poems here: they are mostly short, filled with information, and sure to pique any child's interest in bugs. Kids will love to listen to the rhythmic language. The insects often voice their own opinions and observances, making the poetry personal and engaging.

"Let's Hear It for Dung Beetle

I don't get much respect, and I suspect you didn't know
that I was very popular in Egypt long ago.

A sacred bug. Oh, yes, indeed! A charm with magic power.
Too bad you didn't know me in my former, finest hour."

Before the page is turned, we also learn:

"Dung beetles are ground dwellers and especially like manure piles.
They live off the waste of animals, particularly plant eaters like
cows and camels. In ancient Egypt, some dung beetles were called
scarabs. Ornaments in the form of scarabs have been found on

There you go!

Kids love reading, and hearing, text that provides a link to something they may not know. Carol Murray fills the pages with poetry and ends the book with three full pages of 'Cricket Notes', adding informative paragraphs that up the learning. Melissa Sweet's humorous and ingenious watercolor and mixed media artwork bursts with color and detail. Kids will experience an 'EWWW' moment when they see the careful look a fly has before descending upon a dessert laden table. Or the long 'probing proboscis' of the much dreaded mosquito. They will 'ahh' at the beauty of a dragonfly, and giggle as they watch the inchworm makes its way along a ruler.

Lively, entertaining ... and oh so, educational.                                                                  

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