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My Little Book of Bugs. Pub. Te Papa Press 2020.

September 14, 2020 Comments off

My Little Book of Bugs. Pub. Te Papa Press 2020.

This bilingual board book in English and Maori is for pre schoolers.

It talks about all the bugs children will see in their environment from bee to weta in alphabetical order.

Butterflies have wings covered with thousands of tiny scales and cockroaches can live for a long time without food and water. Wetas wave these spiky legs to frighten enemies.

The Maori text follows the English and gives readers an appreciation that there are two major languages in New Zealand plus sign language of course.

being a board book it is very hardy and can be chewed and thrown without damage. A valuable

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I Love Bugs by Elspeth Alix Batt.

September 3, 2020 Comments off

I Love Bugs by Elspeth Alix Batt. Pub. OneTree House, 2020.

Any illustrator that can put a smile on the face of an earwig is OK by me.

This energetic and poetic picture book about bugs is a total delight. In it are grubs that are wrinkly and wriggly, spiders that are jumpy and jiggly, crickets that are pleasingly prickly but I couldn’t find any feelings for the mosquitos that are wily and whiny, although they certainly are.

Then there is the gecko. Check this superb picture book out and see what happens.

The illustrations are first class with each bug given a suitable character within it’s habitat.

In the back there is a list of the bugs shown with an accurate profile.

A good read-a-loud for juniors and introduction to the world of bugs.

Great humour.

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Bugs in Danger. Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies and Beetles by Mark Kurlansky, illus. Jia Liu.

February 25, 2020 Comments off

Bugs in DangerBugs in Danger. Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies and Beetles by Mark Kurlansky, illus. Jia Liu. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2020.

This non fiction book is told like a finely crafted novel. It is so interesting that I read it twice over a period of a month.

Darwin said that biodiversity and a large number of species is one of the keys to survival. Unfortunately for a large number of essential insects the number of species is slowly disappearing and this poses problems for the survival of other plants and animals not least humankind.

The use of insecticides, habitat destruction, climate change and light pollution combined with natural occurrences like mysterious colony collapse disorder by bees, has eliminated already thousands of extinctions of both plant and animal species. Are humans the next?

Insects make up 80% of all living species but they occupy only 7% of space. While we despise mosquitoes and flies, eliminating them causes other species who feed on them to also decline. Bees in particular are hugely important because they pollinate many food crops and their disappearance would be catastrophic causing food shortages.

Jia Lui’s subtle pen and ink illustrations support the easy to read and understand written text. I would rate this one of the best non fiction science texts I have ever read.

Suitable for primary through to secondary readers.

The Genius of Bugs & Activity Book by Simon Pollard.

November 29, 2016 Comments off


The Genius of Bugs & Activity Book by Simon Pollard. Pub Te Papa Press, 2016.

Issued in conjunction with the Bug Lab exhibition at Te Papa these two science books about bugs are exceptional publications.

The emphasis is on selected bugs that use Weapons, Teamwork, Engineering and Deception to ward off enemies and attract their prey.

Take the Bombardier beetle that blows a super-hot, stinky gas powered spray out of it’s bottom and you are right in a very interesting book.

Add the Spitting spider, the brain surgeon Jewel wasp that surgical implants it’s eggs inside a cockroaches brain and the Japanese honey bees that surround an enemy and cook it alive with their body heat and you have an action packed read.
New Zealand Wetas , the  Harvestman spider plus my favourite the Moss piglet add flavour and science comes alive.

Splendidly illustrated with close up photographs and written in large font with bite sized information boxes and the package is complete.


Genius of Bugs Activity Book by Simon Pollard. Pub Te Papa Press, 2016.

The Activity book allows juniors to make their way through a spider maze, solve a word find puzzle, connect the dots to discover an insect and answer true or false questions. Answers are in the back of course.

Helps juniors connect with the subject of insects  in the above book.

Broad appeal over the whole primary/ intermediate school and plenty of boy appeal.

Bugs by Whiti Hereaka

May 13, 2014 Comments off

bugsBugs by Whiti Hereaka. Pub. Huia Publications, 2014.

“Its easy when its given to you – if you have to work for it, you treasure it”.

Bugs and Jez have been friends for yonks. They fit together like a hand in a glove, but now they are sixteen and in year 12 at school. Everyone tells them this is decision making time, your future is at stake. Its a growing up novel.

Bugs and Jez are intelligent and happy. Their relationship is innocent. They are both brought up by single mothers, Bugs in  a small house and Jez in a flat. Money is very tight and their own expectations of what their chances of success in life are low. Statistics tells them that Maori kids just don’t foot it after leaving High School.

Bugs has an excellent mother who works hard, keeps order and sets boundaries. Jez’s mother is unwise with men.

Into their lives comes very rich girl Charmaine who Bugs nicknames Stone Cold. She is European, has everything on a plate but lacks friends and meaningful social contact. To her parents she is just in the way. Farm her off to boarding school.

Bugs and Jez become her friends and it is this relationship that provides all the drama and helps shift the attitudes of all three characters through the novel. I liked all three characters, I wanted them to do well and I think they will.

Taupo is the setting and High school is the catalyst for change. I can tell you no more. Read it. It will blow your mind.

Whiti Hereaka has a refreshing no nonsense approach to her subject matter. She reminds me of Alan Duff in Once Were Warriors but the style is more readable. It is witty, it is hard hitting, it is passionate, it is funny and it is right on the nail. A good laugh at the end.

A worthy finalist in the NZ Post Children and Young Adults Book Awards and an essential purchase for every High School Library. If you don’t read this you deserve a kicking.


Bloodsuckers. The most irritating creatures of all. by Paul Zborowski.

April 19, 2017 Comments off

bloodsuckersBloodsuckers. The most irritating creatures of all. by Paul Zborowski. Pub. New Holland, 2017.

There is something about bloodsuckers that inspires fear and horror in human beings and this splendid publication will not make it any easier for you but it will put you right on what they are and how they go about their work.

Starting with leeches that need blood to mate and after cutting into you can gorge themselves on your blood  up to several times their own weight. They can be useful in medicine and are still used in plastic surgery. The one that lives up a hippopotamus’s bum is very interesting. After gorging itself the short sharp movements of the hippopotamus’s tail help remove it.

Mosquitoes, tics, bedbugs, tsetse flies, lice and others are also covered plus the sea creatures the lamprey and hagfish. The one everybody wants to know about is of course the vampire bat and when you know it can run along the ground shave your hair and drink without you knowing, your blood will really curdle.

Terrific photographs, computer generated diagrams and information bubbles on life cycle of these creatures makes this book an essential purchase for primary school libraries. Its a great start for research by secondary school students and there are online addresses at the back of the book for further research.

A very classy publication.


Trouble in Time by Adele Broadbent

February 27, 2015 Comments off

trouble timeTrouble in Time by Adele Broadbent. Pub. Scholastic, 2014.

When I read a timeslip novel the mechanism by which the characters travel in time is always an interesting point for me and needs to be convincing. Fortunately in this novel it is. It involves a combination of touch and memory but you will have to read the novel to find out how.

When Ben’s Poppa comes to stay he has to sleep in the caravan and it bugs him. Then at school he finds himself being replaced as best friend to Zac by a trouble making bully named Connor.

Ben tries to stay out of trouble but Connor ropes him in. In a chance happening with his Poppa Ben finds himself in the year 1935, a time when his grandfather was still at school and the city of Marshton was just a little settlement called Marshville.

After a series of strange happenings in 1935 Ben returns to the present and finds that Connor seems to know more than he should. Could he have the key to time travel too? And what will happen if events in the past are changed and these changes could affect the future. The grandfather proxy could apply here. Read it and find out for yourself.

Well told by Adele Broadbent who also compares life and language of the past with that of today. Dialogue between the characters is a strong feature of the novel.

Good read-a-loud for years 5/6 to 7/8

Moonman by Ned Barraud

November 26, 2014 Comments off

moonmanMoonman by Ned Barraud. Pub. craigpotton publishers, 2014.

After reading this excellent picture book I thought ‘its a marvelous night for a moondance with the stars up above in the sky”. Why? because this is what Moonman sees as he lies in bed on the moon gazing at the blue planet in the distance.

He catches a passing star, as you do, and crash lands on earth, falling into a tree at the dead of night. He gazes back at his own crescent moon which lights the Earth to stunning effect.

The rising of a ball of fire over the sea burns Moonman and hurts his eyes so he retreats to a dark cave. When the ball of fire has gone he yearns to go back to his moon. As chance would have it another star is going his way so he hitches a ride with an owl to grab the star back home.

Back on the moon he sweeps up the moonbugs and lies back much more contented with his life.

We all need adventure and we all need to return to the place we have left and see it for the first time. This picture book encapsulates all of that.

Illustrations are excellent and mostly  in the moonlight with the stars all around. The rising sun is dramatic and happy for Earth but not for moonman. It is good to know your place.

Wide appeal from Juniors to Intermediate school.

Maisy Grows a garden by Lucy Cousins

February 1, 2013 Comments off

maisy gardenMaisy Grows a garden by Lucy Cousins. Pub. Walker Books, 2013. 

I received this brilliant First Science pop-up interactive picture book about 4 hours ago and I have just been able to prise it out of the hands of my 3 year old grand daughter. She loved it.

It is spring and Maisy mouse is planting seeds in her garden. She prepares the soil, waters them and watches them grow. Of course there are weeds and bugs but the garden is beautiful and fun..

Tabs enable the reader to pull out and see what is underneath the soil and see the fruit on the plants. New words like rake, fork trowel and plant parts, leaves shoots and roots are pictured and made easy for the pre-school and new entrant reader to understand plant growth.

My grand daughter is back to get it off me.

Check it out for the home and school library. It is fun and informative.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

Beetle Boy by Lawrence David

December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

This is a brilliant picture book based on Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis but don’t let this put you off because it is related a an easily understood level.

Gregory Sampson wakes up one morning and finds he is changing into a beetle. The trouble is nobody notices and it really bugs him(excuse the pun). Firstly his family can’t be bothered, then his school mates treat him the same way.

After feeling down about it, Gregory discovers there can be advantages.

A great read-a-loud about difference and with a great ending.