Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Intriguing Insects

From fleas to beetles,
from bed bugs to flies,
bugs and their numbers can be quite a surprise. 
Their feats are amazing, and believe it or not,
there are more than 10 quintillion; that's saying a lot.

Whether you are a lover of insects or not, hours will be spent pouring over the pages of graphic designers, Sharon Werner's and Sarah Forss' newest tome, Bugs by the Numbers:  facts and figures for multiple types of bugbeasties.  Werner and Forss are the team behind a thriving business, Werner Design Werks, Inc. located in St. Paul, Minnesota as well as their earlier book which garnered much praise, Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types.  Their works have found a permanent place in the Library of Congress.

 Ant, butterfly, ladybug, spider, centipede, grasshopper, walking stick, mosquito, praying mantis, termite and even earthworm are just a few of the 23 bugs crawling, flying, jumping, and weaving their way through this book.

Readers are surrounded by numbers at every turn of the page. Squiggling lines attached to numbers decorate the front and back endpapers.  Upon closer inspection the lines are facts about the bug featured with that number.   What this typographical wizard duo has done is to combine research with art.  Rarely has a more captivating technique been employed to make learning so appealing.

Let's take the number 168 which appears on the back endpapers.  A zig-zagging line moves across the two pages reading:  Cockroaches can zigzag 25 times every second, which makes them 1 of the most agile creatures on earth.  Cockroaches have 2 sets of teeth-1 sideways pair in their mouth and another in their digestive system to finish the work.  A cockroach has 5 claws on each leg.  An adult male can squeeze into a space the thickness of a quarter.  Cockroaches have 18 knees.
When readers turn to the page 168 (numbers are in chronological order but many are skipped in between each bug's factual narrative) they are "treated" to this interesting fact:  Cockroaches can move very fast , but sometimes not fast enough and they get squished, oops!  Don't worry, a cockroach can survive for 168 hours without its head.  but sadly, without a mouth it dies of thirst.
Werner and Forss then employ that number repeatedly to design the silhouette of the insect's body surrounded by large white or colorful space.  Each entry has additional numeric tidbits of information along the bottom or side of the pages.

When initially describing this book to potential readers the words astonishing, clever, artistic and informative come to mind.   This visually pleasing array is further enhanced by nine die-cut gatefolds which are a hit no matter the age of the reader.  Multiple viewings are encouraged due to the heavy card stock used for the pages. 

One for the elementary school, one for the middle school and one for me to be read over and over.  Who knew that creepy could be so cool.  What fun!

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