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Children's LiteratureWhat a story behind an annoying, itchy, and possibly dangerous mosquito bite! Children are playing hide-and-seek (shown in black-and-white photographs) as a Culex pipiens mosquito emerges from the stagnant water in a discarded tire, seeking blood to nourish her eggs. When she lands on a boy's neck, he feels nothing, though her cutters are slicing through his skin; only later does he reach to scratch the red, lumpy bite. The really fascinating part of the story lies in the amazingly beautiful photomicrographs taken with a scanning electron microscope, then enlarged and colored to reveal the parts of the mosquito's body in exquisite detail. The mosquito's life cycle, plankton, and some human bits are displayed in brilliant blues, purples, pinks, and olives against darker pages, forming their own scientific works of art with clear explanations for young scientists. A male mosquito (only the females drink blood) is displayed with inserts showing feathery wing scales and a fan-like antenna. After the Culex pipiens bites, she will need to rest for a least an hour before she can fly again, returning to the tire to lay more eggs in the stagnant rainwater. The author appends a section of further information about mosquitoes—revealing that the Anopheles kills about two million people a year in Africa—as well as a page about the micrographs. A glossary of terms is helpful, as is a list of resources, mostly websites where readers, inspired by this unusual and beautiful book, can explore photomicrographs in greater detail. 2005, Charlesbridge, Ages 8 up.
—Barbara L. Talcroft