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Picture Book Thursday: Bugging Out

Animals Charles Darwin Saw:
An Around-the-World Adventure
Written by Sandra Markle
Illustrated by Zina Saunders
Chronicle Books
Ages 7-10

076361436x.medOne Beetle Too Many:
The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin
Written by Kathryn Lasky
Illustrated by Matthew Trueman
Ages 7-12
Read the author interview.

9781416903864 Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails
Written by Betsy Franco
Illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Simon & Schuster
Ages 3-7
Read the author interview.

I know, I know. You were so swept up in books celebrating President's Day that you completely skipped over the bicentennial of Darwin's birthday. Well, breath a sigh of relief cause I'm riding to your rescue.

Animals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around-the-World Adventure
Based on key concepts from the National Council for the Social Studies and the National Academy of Sciences, this book delivers on providing a fun and informative account of Charles Darwin. And boy, was Darwin one dedicated scientist. Readers will be shocked to learn what happened when he ran out of hands to transport beetles and what led to his being sick in later life. The book is nicely illustrated with what appear to be wood cuts and is topped off with a map of Darwin's voyage, a glossary, and a list of related books and Web sites. Thank you Sandra and Zina!

One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin
I wouldn't expect anything less than quality from a Candlewick publication, and I'm certainly not disappointed with this offering. It contains super illustrations packed with details.No wonder, as illustrator Matthew Truman shares, "Wandering around with my nose in the grass while collecting the weeds, wildflowers, and herbs for these pictures made me feel a little bit like Charles Darwin. Then concocting different ways to sneak them into the paintings was similar to a secret scientific experiment."

Author Kathryn Lasky has done her homework, as well. The book is peppered with quotes and interesting facts about Darwin. If you want to find out what his childhood nickname was -- and believe me, you do -- get a hold of this book.

Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails
While Darwin isn't featured in this one, it does a nice job of showing the shapes and patterns found in nature. Illustrator Steve Jenkins uses a deft hand to create cut-and-torn-paper illustrations that will keep children's attention. Betsy Franco's text is sure to delight as well -- and keep children rhyming as they follow along. It's hard to resist lines like, "The animal known as the puffer fish does not want to be someone's gourmet dish. Whenever it senses there's something to fear, it puffs itself up till it's almost a sphere." Here's a super title to tie into science and math lessons.

Provide children with a variety of paper plates in different sizes, markers, and scissors. Have them use the plates to design their own bugs, cutting another plate in half to create wings or other bug body parts. When the bugs are complete, display them on the bulletin board, accompanied by labels with the students' chosen bug names.


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