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Book Reviews

The Insecto-files: Amazing Insect Science and Bug Facts You’ll Never Believe

by Helaine Becker; Claudia Dávila, illus.

Helaine Becker, author of Boredom Blasters and more, turns her attention here to a topic kids love: creepy, crawly bugs of all shapes and sizes. The Insecto-files is jammed with interesting facts presented in kid-friendly language, with illustrations that vary between scientifically accurate and comic-book funny.

The kinds of facts found here are fascinating, even for an adult reader. Who knew that every 17 years, fungus affects the cicada population, causing their rear ends to fall off? Kids – and teachers – love details like this, which capture the imagination and give opportunities for further discussion and reading.

Becker offers her readers page after page of hands-on science activities, each with its own catchy title. In “The Dine and Dash,” participants try eating a variety of foods, using only teeth or a bendable straw to sample the techniques that hungry bugs use to get their honey, leaves, or nectar. For each exercise or activity, she provides a list of materials needed, clear step-by-step instructions, and an explanation of the science behind it.

The book’s language is accessible, but strives for scientific accuracy as well. Where necessary, a term is explained simply: water molecules “adhere, or stick to” other molecules. Correct scientific terms are used throughout, including Latin names and biological references, but the varied reading levels of potential readers, not to mention their senses of humour, are kept in mind. “Insect flatulence” is referred to as “burps and toots to you and me.” Teachers are bound to have fun with that one.

The Insecto-files includes an index of scientific concepts as well as a list of experiments, a general index, and the answers to quizzes and puzzles. Visually appealing and full of fascinating facts, this is a highly recommended addition to a home or school library.