Quote of the Month

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




Monday, May 21, 2012

Bug Me...Number One

With the return of warmer weather joining the chorus of birdsong is the buzzing, humming and chirping of insects.  Creeping, crawling, jumping and flying through our world, integral to the completed whole, their place is assured whether deemed friend or foe.  Grateful we are then for the assistance provided by the small flash of red seen moving among our plants.

With more than 170 nonfiction books to her credit author/illustrator, Gail Gibbons, has most recently turned her attention to the world of Ladybugs (Holiday House).  Her never ending quest for answers to questions, her thirst for knowledge, educates readers about this popular bug.  No insect has claimed such appeal on clothing, jewelry, shoes, fabric, as a food decoration, costume design or even as fingernail decorations as have ladybugs.

Leading off with some general observations, next the side and top of the body are closely examined with the parts labeled appropriately.  Little known facts, at least to me, are shared; these small little creatures populate six of our seven continents numbering close to 5,000 different kinds.  Four hundred seventy five alone can be found in North America.

Devoting several pages to each, Gibbons explores the four stages of growth.  Interesting facts are overlaid on her illustrations as text along the bottom offers further explanation.   Did you know eggs are laid among aphids so the hatched larvae can feed, larvae eat until their outer covering splits several times prior to becoming a pupa and within an hour of emerging from the pupa casing a ladybug's spots began to show?

Three ways of keeping safe from enemies is disclosed as is how protection is sought in colder weather.  Six pages cover the benefits of using ladybugs in agriculture.  Gibbons closes with eight little squares of trivia.

This may very well be one of my favorite Gail Gibbons books. There are so many to love not only for the information found in each but the engaging, colorful illustrations but Ladybugs stands out.  The jacket and matching cover make a complete visual when unfolded, using hues which send a clear invitation to open the book.  Solid color endpapers are done in the brilliant red-pink found on the jacket and cover.

Most of the information is shown on pictures which extend across two pages.  Each illustration zooms in on the ladybugs's world among their natural habitat.  Using varied shades of green, pinks, yellows and purples against swirls of sky blues readers will want to reach out and touch the pages. (Believe me, I did.)  But when Gibbons wanted to change perspective in the presentation of her facts, a single page was divided into threes; discussing what ladybugs do in the season of winter.

Ladybugs by Gail Gibbons is a dazzling display of carefully researched details set among equally vibrant illustrations.  It should be added to any professional (library or classroom) collection; a copy is now sitting on my personal bookshelves.  Gail Gibbons has teaching guides at her web site linked above.  Here is a link to the Enchanted Learning page with some clever follow-up activities about ladybugs.

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