Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes

Nicola Davies
Illustrator:  Emily Sutton 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Candlewick, 2016   ISBN: 978-0763689049

No matter where we live, we are surrounded by animals. Even in a big city there are little ants marching up a tree trunk, birds sitting on window sills, and squirrels building nests in the crooks of branches. What many of us don’t know, or forget, is that there is a whole world of tiny forms of life that we cannot see, and they are everywhere. They are in and on everything around us, including being on and inside our bodies.

These life forms are different from ants, birds, trees, and squirrels because they don’t have eyes, legs, or proper heads. They don’t have leaves or roots either, so they are not animals or plants, and yet they are alive and they have a huge impact on our world.

Microbes are so tiny that a single drop of seawater can hold twenty million of them, and a single teaspoon of soil can contain as many as a billion microbes. In addition to being so incredibly numerous, they also come in a variety of forms. Some look like strings, some are like flowers, and some are “squishy” blobs.

One of the amazing things about these life forms is that they can eat just about anything, even oil and rocks. Their ability to eat such things means that they can bring about remarkable changes. Among other things they can turn spoiled food and grass clippings into rich compost, and they can turn rock into oil.

Another amazing thing is that they can replicate themselves really fast. This can be a good thing, for example when you want them to break down waste, but it can also be a bad thing because some microbes cause disease. In a very short time a disease-causing microbe can divide again and again and again until it makes the animal or plant host very sick indeed. Thankfully, most microbes help us rather than harm us.

In this excellent book children will learn about a fascinating hidden world that has a profound effect on their lives. Throughout the book interesting facts are paired with splendid artwork to help children better understand what microbes are and what they do. Grownups could use this book as a jumping off point to explore how microbes affect our lives every day.