David Suzuki, the famed scientist and environmentalist, has collaborated with award-winning author Tanya Lloyd Kyi and illustrator Qin Leng for Bompa’s Insect Expedition, a fun nonfiction picture book.
In the overarching story, twins Nakina and Kaoru are excited to explore nature with their grandfather, Suzuki, referred to as Bompa. Although they are initially disappointed their adventurous Bompa is only taking them as far as their own backyard, Nakina and Kaoru quickly begin to appreciate learning about the insects that crawl around their home. As the three of them wander the garden, the twins ask questions such as “Are insects animals?” and “Why does [a caterpillar] eat so much?” Bompa provides clear, easy-to-understand answers packed with interesting information. For example, caterpillars need to eat 200 times their own weight in leaves because they need the extra energy for building their chrysalis. “Imagine if you were going to grow wings, six legs, a new head and body …you’d certainly need extra snacks!” Bompa explains.
The text is longer than that of a standard picture book, but kids ages four to eight will love the fascinating facts about everyday bugs – ants, caterpillars, dragonflies, butterflies, and mosquitos – they might see lurking outside their front door. At the end, the book provides even more facts, encouraging intrigued kiddos to further their learning with suggestions for how to embark on their own nature journey. Readers are given a snippet from Kaoru’s field journal, demonstrating the basic parts of a beetle, and there are suggestions for what sorts of items kids can bring along for their own scientific undertaking.
Leng’s art gives Bompa’s Insect Expedition warmth and whimsy, with silly visuals of Bompa, Nakina, and Kaoru flying with dragonfly wings, an ant balancing a stack of suitcases, and a giant caterpillar munching away at a joyous tea party. Leng also captures the colourful world these creatures inhabit with vivid nature-scapes full of flowers, trees, grass, bugs, and animals. Overall, it’s a captivating way of introducing insects to children.