Children's Literature - Liz GordonWings, Stings and Wriggly Things, a second offering in the "SuperSmarts" series. Even though it talks about bird-eating spiders and hamster-sized beetles and its cover shows a dragonfly eating a bee, the verbs are less stinging. The insects in this book are not humanized. However, books in "SuperSmarts" have problems with layout. On each page, the graphic designers have numbered an average of six or seven paragraphs- not necessarily in order-making the reader work much too hard.
Young readers can learn all about this hairy scary beast as well as butterflies, snails, bees, worms, spiders, dragonflies, grasshoppers, ants, and beetles in this book.
School Library JournalGr 1-3-Fascinating facts, picture strips, foldout pages, and true-or-false questions are among the features of this series. Wings includes bees, snails, and spiders; Disguises looks at frogs, geckos, and screech owls. Much of the information is of interest, but the cluttered page layouts create an almost impenetrable montage. Double-page spreads show one large picture of an animal against a mottled background. Boxed insets include bright backgrounds with colored, speckled borders in which colorful boxed numbers are themselves inset. Another set of color-boxed numbers guides readers through a set of disordered facts, leading one to wonder why there is a need for numbering at all. Jenkins's well-intentioned text, aimed at addressing children in their own vernacular, serves only to undermine the accuracy of the information presented. A grasshopper "oozes a gross-tasting liquid...." (Gross to whom? Did someone actually taste it?) And spiders pull silk out of their bodies "from holes near their bottom." (Does "bottom" mean underside, abdomen, or do spiders have "bottoms" like people?) Llewellyn's text sometimes imposes human assessments on animals. "Panther chameleons are crotchety creatures," readers are told. Fortunately, a number of better books, such as Anita Ganeri's Animals in Disguise (S & S, 1995), are available.-Lisa Wu Stowe, Great Neck Library, NY
- San Val, Incorporated
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