Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bugs and Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter by Amy S. Hansen

There's a cold wind blowing in Colorado tonight. And even though the trees are still sporting scarves of red and gold, and even though it's supposed to be 71 degrees on Saturday for the boys' last regular season football game, I can't help but think that winter is right around the corner.

It's a perfect night, then, for BUGS AND BUGSICLES. The book begins in late September, when a monarch butterfly, a honey bee, pavement ants, a praying mantis, a field cricket, and an arctic woolly bear caterpillar are just beginning their preparations for winter. Author Amy S. Hansen then follows eight different insects' journey through the winter.

The praying mantis lays three hundred eggs in a sticky, foamy egg sack, then dies. The ladybug engages in a special kind of hibernation (diapause), awakens in spring to mate, then most likely dies before summer. The Monarch Butterfly migrates to Mexico. And most interesting, the Arctic Woolly Bear Caterpillar freezes into a "bugsicle" then thaws out the next spring (and does this seven years in a row!)

The graceful, almost poetic writing in this book is enhanced by wildlife illustrator Robert Kray's beautiful, super-detailed illustrations of insects in a variety of habitats. Appendices include two experiments for young scientists to try. There is a also a list of books and websites for further reading, as well as a glossary and index. And for those of us who are trying to help kids understand text structures, this is a great example of an enumerative text with parallel topics.

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