Did you know that leafcutting ants grow their own fungus for food? That most fleas can jump up to 200 times their own length? In this accessible, attractive, authoritative encyclopedia young readers can learn about many insects and arachnids. For each entry, the family, the size, and the number of species are given, along with a short descriptive paragraph about habitat and habit. Excellent illustrations accompany each entry, and photographs are found throughout the book. This book is a must for elementary school libraries, would make an excellent addition to home and preschool bookshelves, and should definitely be bought for any child with an interest in these remarkably adaptable creatures.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6--This profusely illustrated introduction surveys over 100 assorted insects and arachnids. A preface describes the animals' general characteristics, some special anatomical features, and the major differences between the two classes. The bulk of the material is organized into eight chapters, each of which concentrates on a group of creatures that share certain characteristics. For instance, one chapter examines insect predators such as mantids and dragonflies, while another looks at members of the order Lepidoptera. Each chapter begins with a general discussion of the subject and a greatly enlarged, full-color photo of a representative species. An illustrated "catalog" of about a dozen different invertebrates follows. The text is concise and well organized, but some information is unclear. For example, in referring to the mating behavior of the crab spider, the text reads, "This spider...does not make webs, but the smaller males sometimes use their silk to tie the females down before mating." Without some prior knowledge of spider behavior, the sentence is unclear--females sometimes mistake the smaller males as prey, and that is the purpose of their binding the females. Laurence Mound's Insect (Knopf, 1990) offers similar information; however, Johnson's book is more tightly organized and it covers a number of species not included elsewhere. More detailed information on a greater number of spiders is available in Jennifer Dewey's Spiders Near and Far (Dutton, 1993). Despite the book's aforementioned minor flaws, this will be a useful guide to the insect world.--Karey Wehner, San Francisco Public Library