Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Face to Face with Caterpillars

Face to Face with Caterpillars

Darlyne A. Murawski
For ages 9 to 12
National Geographic Children's Books, 2007   ISBN: 978-1426300523

Darlyne A. Murawski is a photographer, biologist, and writer who has gone to places all over the world on assignments for the National Geographic Magazine. In many of the countries that she has visited she has photographed caterpillars, and in this book she tells us about some of the things that she has seen and learned about these remarkable "eating machines."

Eating is what caterpillars are best at doing, and it is what they are supposed to do. They need to eat so that they can grow and have the fuel that they need to make their remarkable metamorphosis into a butterfly or moth. The author begins her story by describing this process and by acquainting her readers with basic caterpillar biology.

Next she explores the eating habits of these "eating machines." We tend to think that caterpillars are leaf eaters and many of them are, but there are also numerous species that eat other things. So far zoologists have found species which eat, among other things, flowers, beeswax, ants and other insects,

Of course these walking stomachs are not the only ones who need to eat. They themselves are often the ones who get eaten. Caterpillars are a great favorite with all kinds of animals, and because of this they have developed some very creative ways of defending themselves. Readers will be astonished to discover how crafty these little animals can be,  protecting themselves by having spikes, poisons, a body which is camouflaged, and by adopting certain behaviors which keep them safe from predators.

The author concludes with a section about what the reader can do to ensure that future generations of people will get to enjoy having caterpillars, butterflies, and moths in their world. She also gives her readers an "assignment" which is sure to be interesting, and she offers her readers some "Facts at a glance."

This excellent book in the "Face to Face with Animals" series is not only carefully written to appeal to children, but it is also beautifully presented and filled with gorgeous annotated photographs.