Bugs by the Numbers by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss
The creators of Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types return with a bug book where it is all done by the numbers. After an energetic introduction, readers turn pages to see bugs made up of numbers. The numbers have special reference to that insect, whether it is the number of legs, number of eyes, or how far they can jump. The design of the book is eye-catching and very engaging. The ground is bright colors that change from page to page and the bulk of the numbers are explained there. But other pages have large flaps that open: wood for the termites, a tree for the walking stick, and leaves for the caterpillar. This is a vibrant book that will have everyone engrossed in learning facts about bugs.
The typographical design is truly amazing with the insects fully rendered in numbers, used in different sizes and amounts of boldness. The backgrounds are primarily white with large areas of color, leaving the detail to the insects themselves. It is a strong design that is intriguing and great fun.
This book worked particularly well read-aloud, which is something I had not expected. The facts read naturally and provide lots of opportunities for further discussion. There are facts that are well known and others that are strange and intriguing. It makes for a great book for kids to nod along that they know the information and then in the next sentence to be learning something new.
A great bug book, this deserves a place in every public library. I know it will be one of my picks for holiday presents for any nature-loving kid. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from library copy.
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Island’s End by Padma Venkatraman
A remote island in the Bay of Bengal is the setting for this novel by the author of Climbing the Stairs. Uido is a teen who can communicate with spirits. Just before strangers arrive at their island, Uido dreams of it. The tribe has conflicted feelings about the strangers, some are drawn to the technology of their fast boats and matches, while others see the end of their ways if the new ways are adopted. During this confusing time, Uido studies to become her tribe’s spiritual leader. There is danger in the studies, from braving the dangers of the island to finding her spirit animal. But nothing is as dangerous yet beguiling as the strangers and their new ways, as Uido is soon to find out.
Venkatraman creates a vivid world here surrounded by water and coral reefs. It is a world where everything is different. The island itself is a character in the book as seasons turn, Uido journeys across the island, and finally in the climactic ending scenes. The island is beautiful, wild, untamed and irresistible.
Uido is a heroine who faces many self-doubts, but rises to the challenges she is faced with. She has a spirit herself that is true and strong. She struggles with a friend who doesn’t understand her, a brother who is jealous, and the loneliness of being away from her family. Plus the allure of the modern world. Yet in Uido, readers will also see a young woman who is tied to the traditional ways in a strong and compelling way.
Beautifully written, this book is a journey into an unknown, primitive world where readers will discover a radiance and wonder. Appropriate for ages 13-15.
Reviewed from ARC received from Penguin Young Readers Group.