Thursday, July 10, 2014

Shelf Life [kids]

BuggedBugged: How Insects Changed History, by Sarah Albee, 168 pages.
@SPL:  J 595.7 Alb

Have bugs really changed history? According to author Sarah Albee, the answer is a definite “yes”.  

Throughout our history, insects have both hindered and helped us. Some have helped to bring about major historic events. One of the best-known, the 14th century Bubonic Plague - which by some estimates reduced the human population of Europe at that time by about 40% - was transmitted from rats to people by fleas. Insects have also affected the outcome of many wars by carrying such diseases as malaria, yellow fever and typhus to soldiers. (For example, typhus, which was spread by lice or fleas, was a significant factor in Napoleon’s final defeat.) 

Throughout history, insects such as locusts have also set off widespread human famines by devouring entire fields of crops.

However, bugs have been helpful to us as well … in fact, they are essential because they pollinate crops and plants. Some also till and enrich the soil; some produce honey and silk, and many insects serve as food for various birds and animals. 

Albee’s fascinating book is swarming with surprising information. Did you know that a flea can live for 125 days without eating, that silk is made from dried caterpillar spit, and that there are about ten quintillion insects in the world today?

A glossary and a further reading list is included at the end of this intriguing, informative book.

** Recommended for ages 9 to 12 years. 

Weird InsectsWeird Insects, by Michael Worek, 64 pages.
@SPL:  J 595.7 Wor

What better time of year than summer to delve into the world of bugs?

As the title of this slim volume promises, its content does not focus on the ants, flies and mosquitoes that we see most often, but on the strangest and most extraordinary insect species found around the globe.

Included are the remarkable-looking violin beetle, the giraffe-necked beetle, the death’s head caterpillar (which sports skull-like thorax markings) and ­­­­­­­­the ferocious bulldog ant.

Antlions, owlflies and rhinoceros beetles – which can lift an astonishing 800 times their own weight and are the heaviest insects found in North America – are also introduced.

Not forgotten are stink bugs, which, as their names suggest, have a notoriously foul taste if eaten by a predator.

While a close look at some of these tiny creatures (such as the death’s head caterpillar or the scorpionfly) will reveal specimens worthy of a horror movie, many insects are actually quite beautiful. The brilliantly-coloured orange and pink stink bugs are an example.

Author Michael Worek’s photographs and descriptions will open our eyes to the marvels and the sheer variety of bugs found in the insect world – a world which is often hidden from our view.

** Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years.
These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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