I Love Bugs by Emma Dodd
This brightly colored book is a cheerful exploration of the world of insects that is less about scientific accuracy and more about an adoration of our six-legged friends. The book moves quickly from bug to bug, from “jumpy leapy bugs” to “slimy crawly creepy bugs.” All are appreciated for their differences until the end when a spider appears! It is a great twist that children are sure to enjoy.
Dodd’s art is what really takes this book beyond a run-of-the-mill insect book. Filled with bright colors, an eager child to guide us, and plenty of bug-eyed insects, young readers will feel right at home. Her illustrations are thick lined and beautifully patterned, bringing the essence of grass, dirt and bugs directly to the reader.
Dodd’s language here is bouncy and pure fun. She offers rhymes that have a real spring about them. Since she doesn’t name the insects, children will be eager to name them themselves from caterpillars to ladybugs to grasshoppers.
Add this to a toddler story time and then set out on a bug hunt together. It could just be cut outs around the children’s room. This would pair wonderfully with nonfiction picture books about specific insects that will offer enticing details. Appropriate for ages 1-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison
After being tormented by fairies and waking her mother in the middle of the night, Tanya is sent to stay with her grandmother in her dilapidated manor house. Tanya sees fairies at her grandmother’s house too: they fill the grandfather clock and make mischief in the kitchen. But fairies are nothing compared to the dangers of the woods that surround her grandmother’s house. As Tanya struggles to come to terms with her second sight, she is helped by several unlikely allies, including the local witch woman, the annoying son of the manor’s caretaker, and a girl has had far worse luck with the fairies. Will Tanya be able to solve the mystery that surrounds her with their help?
Harrison excels at creating an immersive world that truly is brought to life through her writing. Her attention to small details and willingness to truly describe settings have helped make a world that is tangible. Exploring the manor house, one can almost smell the dust of neglect, see the encroaching ivy. The fairies are offered with just enough detail to make sure readers remember that they are not friendly, sweet butterfly-like creatures.
Harrison also has a good ear for dialogue, which helps complete her world building. Tanya is a tough but also friendly girl who is trapped in a nightmare no one else can see. The tense relationship between her and her grandmother is written in actions rather than explanations. There are plenty of tense moments, strange events, and bizarre happenings to keep the pages moving briskly. For me though it was a book to savor, a world I longed to linger a bit more in.
There is plenty to love here. It is a book of evil fairies that works for children who are not ready for Holly Black and Melissa Marr yet. Beautiful writing and incredible world building. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from ARC received from Little Brown.