Gr 4–9—Maloney uses a humorous conversational tone as she begins with comparisons of size, then moves on to the role of insects as pollinators, decomposers, and even food sources. Readers will goggle at the idea of a bug as large as a Quarter Pounder but also learn the importance of insects to forensic scientists and which species are in danger of extinction. The author warns, "I just need to blurt stuff like that out…I lose friends this way; I really do." It is not an idle warning; there are graphic descriptions of the destruction a swarm of locusts can cause or how mosquitoes spread diseases. Tales of how her family reacts to experiments with chocolate chip cricket cookie mix or having to catch escapees from her ant farm give the book a personal, rather than a dry scientific feel. Illustrations, such as that of a bug slowly roasting on a spit over a fire in the section on insect-based food options, reinforce the humor. Back matter includes organizations to contact, books to read, and actions to take to help support insect populations. This title is densely packed with information and a bit lengthy for primary grade readers, but should please middle grade bug enthusiasts. VERDICT An approachable text on a wide range of insect lore, this title has high appeal for those curious about bugs and would also be helpful for research.
My review originally appeared in School Library Journal.