About a week ago, I was rushing to get through my day and with a gang of hungry kids in the car, we hit the drive-through for some lunch. This isn’t remarkable, but the chintzy little toys that came with their kids meals were. While most toys deposited into a lunch sack are usually trash-worthy, these ended up leading us to an afternoon of discovery. I have not played with a bug catcher for years, and I’ll admit that I was probably more excited than the kids to start tormenting some ants and arachnids.
Those brand-new bug catchers led us to an afternoon of happy backyard exploring. We caught spiders, potato bugs, ants and my personal favorite, ladybugs. The bug catchers were designed so that you set the clear plastic dome on top of the poor insect in question, push a trigger that released a floor to the dome, enclosing the bug inside.
I don’t know about you, but my kids are happiest when they are outside exploring, and even more so when exploring something new. The sun warmed their little bodies and they were excited to be able to catch these little bugs and to look at these creatures in all of their exotic weirdness. It was a great way to spend an afternoon. My only regret was that I have severely neglected my insect-related trove of knowledge. When the kids started asking questions, I didn’t have the foggiest notion as to what ladybugs eat, for instance.
Every opportunity to educate a kid is one that I relish, so I went looking for some books on bugs, and since ladybugs are my favorite, I wanted one about beetles. Which brings us to this fantastic book on the insect family that my red and black spotted bugs belong to…”The Beetle Book” which was written and illustrated by writer Steve Jenkins. Where my knowledge of insects failed me, Jenkins’ book was created with the intention of engaging kids in the bizarre, but wondrous world of the beetle. Jenkins used his signature style of creating intricate insect images from pieces of cutout or torn paper, and with each new version of bug, a fantastic fact to accompany them.
I didn’t know that some beetles are poisonous, for instance, or that the species is comprised of one million different types of the tiny critter. The abilities of the lowly beetle are fascinating, and Jenkins wasted no amount of effort on sorting through insect factoids for the best pieces that will lure kids into learning about all things beetle-y. Jenkins himself had a background in science and graphic art and his books are the perfect blend of the two arenas.
The book has managed to cull the coleopterist (the study of beetles) field, and plucked the best bugs with the best skills for the book. Those beetle sword face things (technically called horns, we learned) alone were fantastic for their various uses. With his science background, he has handpicked the most astounding facts about beetles that kids are going to devour… just like ladybugs do their aphid happy meals.
You can purchase your copy of “The Beetle Book” by clicking here.
Happy beetle exploring!