Laurence King Publishing
I knew that the ladybird season was about to burst upon us when I noticed several that had emerged, and died on a window-sill of one of the spare bedrooms of my house a few days back. Before disposing of them I took a close look: I think they were a variant of the invasive Harlequin species from Asia. My first go-to was this little book waiting for me to write a review. It’s a wonderful introduction to the little insects, beautifully produced and illustrated, biologically accurate with parts properly labelled; and with judiciously used flaps that add to the effectiveness of the information given.
Topics covered include the insect’s anatomy, defence, nutrition, hibernation and reproduction. The latter takes readers through the entire life-cycle from mating, via the larval stage to the emergence of the new spotless ladybird; the spots and red colour develop fully after about an hour.
There are also spreads devoted to the variety of ladybirds; and a ‘spot the difference’ observation game. The whole thing is printed on thick matt paper, which further adds to the quality of the whole. Altogether a class act; add it to your early years topic box or KS1 collection.
Make and Move Minibeasts
Laurence King Publishing
I’m not generally a great fan of ‘pop-out, create a whatever’ kind of books; they generally require way more manual dexterity and know how than the target age group indicated, but this one is definitely worth a look.
It’s the most recent of a Make and Move series by this artist and contains nine pre-coloured creatures; and a butterfly, a stag beetle and a dragonfly to which users of the book can add their own designs and colours. The coloured images are textured, and although texturing the uncoloured ones, while not impossible, might be something of a challenge that’s no bad thing and certainly something a six or seven year old could do.
They might need a little help with putting the animals together though and the projects increase in difficulty from first to last.
When completed the minibeasts do move easily, partly due to their being printed on thin card. Now while I don’t suggest buying a whole lot of these books, I know that many schools have a focus on minibeasts at some time during the summer term and a copy of this in the classroom could well prove inspiring for children to perhaps use as a source book, with an adult creating an example or two from the book itself. There’s a whole lot of mathematical learning potential as well as biological (and technological) learning herein.
Alternatively, it’s an interesting way to spend a few hours at the weekend or during say, a half term holiday.
Build a Butterfly
illustrated by Kiki Ljung
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Published in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, this is a board book and activity book combined.
Young readers are invited to find out about the Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) and to use the press-out pieces, following the step-by-step instructions to build a card model of the butterfly. Starting with its life-cycle, information is given about finding food including the role of the eyes in locating same, as well as finding a mate; the butterfly’s diet;
emergence from its chrysalis; habits; and how it migrates.
The names of the insect’s various body parts are supplied – these are crucial when constructing the butterfly model – as well as a simple explanation of the function of each part. Young fingers may require the assistance of an adult in fitting the eleven pieces together.
My knowledge of this butterfly species is that there’s a slight inaccuracy in the portrayal of the adult, which here has been given white markings to the upper surface of the hind-wings making it look like a Monarch butterfly. A curious slip considering the endorsement given by the Natural History Museum; ditto the use of a capital C in the specific name; the paragraph about the butterfly’s emergence from its chrysalis has inaccuracies too. These factors will not however detract from the enjoyment of creating the insect. This book, I suggest, is best seen as helping readers to understand the basic anatomy of the butterfly.
I’ve signed the charter