Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Bug Off!: Creepy, Crawly Poems

Bug Off!: Creepy, Crawly Poems

Jane Yolen
Photographer: Jason Stemple
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Boyds Mills Press, 2012   ISBN: 978-1590788622

Many people (including the author of this book) do not like insects. They do not like how they buzz, they don’t like their large ‘buggy’ eyes, and they don’t like the fact that so many insects “creep, crawl, bite, sting.” It is true that insects can be a nuisance at times, but they also are vital component in countless ecosystems, and many of them are quite beautiful, if you take the time to look at them.

The good news is that you don’t have to trot around with a large magnifying glass to see some of this beauty. Jason Stemple has done this for you by taking some extraordinary photographs that he has chosen to include in this book. The author, Jane Yolen (who as I mentioned does not like insects), was so amazed by the beauty of these little creatures that she has decided that perhaps insects are not so nasty after all.

To accompany each of Jason’s photos, Jane Yolen has written a poem, and a section of text that provides readers with further information about the insects show in the pictures.  In “Oh, fly” Jane Yolen talks about how relieved she is that a fly “flew /onto / my leaf / and not / my food.” She even admits that the fly is quite attractive (on the leaf).

Later on in the book, we see a photo of a daddy longlegs. In the informative text we read that this creature, a harvestman, is not a spider at all, which is what most people think they are. Instead it is a cousin of sppiders, and it is quite harmless, even though its long legs make it look a little sinister. In her poem, Jane Yolen wonders how the daddy longlegs knows which legs “go forward” and which “help / Pick up the slack.”

With touches humor, brilliant descriptions, and a clever use of language, Jane Yolen gives her insect subjects a fair shake, showing us that they can be beautiful, interesting, and full of surprises.