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INSECTLOPEDIA
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THE FIRST PART LAST Review
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX Review
MAKE LEMONADE Review
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TOGO Review
BUD, NOT BUDDY Review
THE RIFLE Review
LEONARDO DA VINCI Review
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HURRICANES Review
LIFE AND DEATH OF CRAZY HORSE Review
SHIPWRECK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD Review
SATURN Review
AUTHOR STUDY -- Beverly Cleary
AUTHOR STUDY -- Beverly Cleary Bibliography
AUTHOR STUDY -- Beverly Cleary Analysis
AMBER WAS BRAVE, ESSIE WAS SMART
A JAR OF TINY STARS
IT'S RAINING PIGS AND NOODLES
INSECTLOPEDIA
AND THE GREEN GRASS GREW ALL AROUND
BUBBA THE COWBOY PRINCE : A Fractured Texas Tale
SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK
SQUIDS WILL BE SQUIDS
HOW MANY KISSES DO YOU WANT TONIGHT?
MY FRIEND RABBIT
A CALDECOTT CELEBRATION
JUMANJI

INSECTLOPEDIA is a wonderfully engaging collection of twenty-one poems about bugs written by Douglas Florian. Each poem is written about a different type of bug. The poems are short, many times only one or two sentences; but they are very descriptive and leave the reader thinking, “Yes! It’s exactly like that!” The words paint a visual image of the insect. For example “The walkingstick is thin, not thick, / And has a disappearing trick; / By looking like a twig or stalk, / It lives another day to walk.” In three of the poems, in order to enhance the visual imagery, the author has shaped the words to fit the subject. For example, in “The Inchworm,” Florian has shaped the words themselves to looks like an inchworm arching its body in the middle of a “step.” “The Mosquitoes” duplicates the sense of annoyance you feel when stung: “Mosquitoes are thin. / Mosquitoes are rude. / They feast on your skin / For take-out food.”

 

The illustrations are beautiful, quite unusual, and effectively enhance the experience of this book. Each turn of the page brings a new poem and its corresponding painting of that bug. The illustrations are at the same time detailed and abstract. For example, the drawing of “The Dragonfly” has many of the veins of the wings drawn in fractured detail (with a smaller pencil line drawing of a dragonfly woven into the collage); but the gigantic eyes reflect a grinning toothy monster. The question posed in “The Daddy Longlegs” is “How’d you get / Those legs to grow / So very long / And lean in size?” It is answered in the painting of a spider with incredibly long legs lifting tiny dumbbells! In this drawing, as in many of them, the bug sports a toothy grin. The black widow’s spider web is filled with tiny garments – empty of their owners! The drawing of “The Mosquito” offers a detailed, DaVinci-like portrayal of a human arm, complete with all its veins and arteries. Perched on this arm are two giant mosquitoes with their pointy noses stuck into it, apparently enjoying their “take-out” food.

 

Children will enjoy the sense imagery offered in many of these poems. When viewing “The Crickets” with its painting of three toothy crickets with violin bodies while reading “You don’t need tickets / To listen to crickets. / They chirp and cheep for free. / They fiddle and sing / By rubbing each wing, / And never will charge you a fee,” it’s easy to almost hear the crickets making their nightly racket. The ending of “The Monarch” will surely get giggles when the children hear “He is a monarch. / He is a duke. / Swallows that swallow him / Frequently puke.” However, some of the vocabulary might be too advanced for them to fully understand. For example, in “The Weevils,” words such as “aggrieved,” “primeval,” “ruinous,” and “medieval” might keep them from understanding the full meaning; but they’ll understand the gist.

 

This book has been deserving of many awards. Child magazine and Publishers Weekly both honored INSECTLOPEDIA as their Best Book of the Year. It was a 1999 winner of the American Library Association Notable Books for Children award as well as a 2000 Bluebonnet nominee. School Library Journal gave it a glowing review, saying “There are other books of poetry about insects and lots of collections of humorous verses about animals but none match Insectlopedia.

 

School Library Journal. 1998. Book review. School Library Journal. April. In Books In Print [database online]. Available from http://ezproxy.twu.edu:2123/merge_shared/details/details.asp. Accessed 01 March 05.

 

Florian, Douglas. 1998. INSECTLOPEDIA: POEMS AND PAINTINGS. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN: 0152013067.

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