________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 11 . . . . January 23, 2009


Canada's Bugs. (Canada Close Up).

Diane Swanson.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2007.
51 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-0-439-94673-5.

Subject Heading:
Insects-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

***½ /4


The click beetle got its name because it plays a terrific trick. When it is in danger, it pretends to be dead. It falls on its arched back with its legs curled. If this fools the animal hunting the beetle, the animal will give up and go away.

If that does not work, then the click beetle suddenly straightens its back. With a CLICK or SNAP, it jumps into the air. If it lands on its back, then the click beetle jumps again. The beetle keeps jumping until it lands on its feet. The sudden jumping and loud sounds often scare a hunter away. Even if they do not, the click beetle may have jumped far enough to run for safety!

Finding facts about the most common insects, such as flies and ants, is an easy task. This book targets a select group of bugs found in Canada, some of which may be less familiar to young readers. In 10 short chapters that include basic details of appearance, habits and life cycle, a page of Feats (fun facts), and another of Folklore, the reader will discover robber flies, earwigs, fleas, ladybugs and horseflies among other intriguing bugs. Author Diane Swanson's engaging style will quickly grab the reader's attention: who wouldn't want to read more about how to 'flee a flea'? Or about a bug whose light might signal both death and success? Or another that people once feared would 'wriggle its way through their ears and into their brain'?

     Extensive research has turned up amazing tidbits about even the better-known insects in this book. For example, did you know a female mosquito can lay up to 400 eggs at a time? That mosquito larvae use brushes of hair near their mouths to 'make water currents that draw food' closer? That a female mosquito may double her weight in a single blood meal?

     This book will fascinate any youngsters curious about nature and will arm them with well-explained, amazing bug trivia with which to impress their friends. It is a fine introduction, in easy to read format, that will also motivate them to explore this topic further and develop a healthy respect for the insects that inhabit our land.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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