A 'Best Books for Kids and Teens 2010'
- Canadian Children's Book Centre
Most experts believe there are over 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects digging, boring, flying, crawling, and excreting their way in and around the Earth. That’s about a billion billion bugs for every single person. And that’s not even counting their close relatives, the arachnids, which include spiders, lice, ticks, scorpions, and mites. So, if we humans really are that outnumbered, wouldn’t it be a good idea to learn a little more about our insect overlords?
Helaine Becker’s latest activities guide does just that. Following the same format as her critically acclaimed Science on the Loose, which demystified science through fun and silly experiments, The Insecto-Files investigates the hidden lives of insects. It blends little-known facts about bugs with a wealth of easy-to-do activities that are as entertaining as they are educational. Packed with Becker’s trademark blend of energy, irreverence, and information, The Insecto-Files offers budding entomologists a gleeful guerilla approach to learning about the wonderful world of bugs. Mapletree Press/Owlkids Books ISBN:978-1897349465
"Helaine Becker, author of Boredom Blasters and more, turns her attention here to a topic kids love: creepy, crawly bugs of all shapes and sizes. The Insecto-files is jammed with interesting facts presented in kid-friendly language, with illustrations that vary between scientifically accurate and comic-book funny.
The kinds of facts found here are fascinating, even for an adult reader. Who knew that every 17 years, fungus affects the cicada population, causing their rear ends to fall off? Kids – and teachers – love details like this, which capture the imagination and give opportunities for further discussion and reading.
Becker offers her readers page after page of hands-on science activities, each with its own catchy title. In “The Dine and Dash,” participants try eating a variety of foods, using only teeth or a bendable straw to sample the techniques that hungry bugs use to get their honey, leaves, or nectar. For each exercise or activity, she provides a list of materials needed, clear step-by-step instructions, and an explanation of the science behind it.
The book’s language is accessible, but strives for scientific accuracy as well. Where necessary, a term is explained simply: water molecules “adhere, or stick to” other molecules. Correct scientific terms are used throughout, including Latin names and biological references, but the varied reading levels of potential readers, not to mention their senses of humour, are kept in mind. “Insect flatulence” is referred to as “burps and toots to you and me.” Teachers are bound to have fun with that one.
The Insecto-files includes an index of scientific concepts as well as a list of experiments, a general index, and the answers to quizzes and puzzles. Visually appealing and full of fascinating facts, this is a highly recommended addition to a home or school library."
- Quill & Quire Starred Review
"filled with fascinating facts and easy experiments that will enlighten young entomologists in the schoolyard, backyard, or at the cottage. From basic anatomy and quizzes to test their insect recognition skills to wacky trivia about prehistoric dragonflies and male cicadas' mating calls, this book provides children with a fountain of knowledge and insight into the insect world....a light-hearted and fun affair, perfect for budding young scientists...an excellent addition to any classroom, school or home/cottage library."
- Canadian Children's Book News
"Award-winning author and former science kit developer Helaine Becker invites kids to explore the world of insects in her irresistible new book, The Insecto-files. Becker has published in varied children's genres and has brought a wealth of experience to this entertaining, yet educational, title. As we have come to expect from the author, this publication is well researched and presented in an engaging manner. Using an amusing, conversational style, Becker invites readers to identify and classify insects from the everyday to the rare and the fantastic. Readers are hooked from the introduction. The collection of original experiments and activities encourages kids in an entertaining way to think, do and learn. Each experiment can be safely performed at home using everyday equipment and ingredients with minimum fuss..The book begins with a table of contents, and there are 28 double page spreads addressing a different topic with appropriate activities. For example, there are sections on bug basics, night creatures, bug bites, master builders, and amazing facts. Bees and ants are given there own double page spreads...Becker has once again joined forces with illustrator Claudia Dávila who has created a colorful, zany and appealing design. Her computer-generated images, charts and dialogue boxes complement and enhance Becker's breezy style. Readers will appreciate this artistic approach as it allows smaller chunks of information to be absorbed.
In addition to a regular subject index at the book's conclusion, there is also a helpful list of science concepts and experiments.
This reasonably priced, nicely packaged and presented volume will be a great addition to libraries at school and at home."
4 out of 4 Stars Highly Recommended. - CM Magazine
"A book packed with fun experiments and fascinating facts about bugs. Each double page contains numerous blocks and "bites" of information and suggestions of things to do, which focus on a single aspect of a bug's life and activities.
Those readers familiar with Owl Magazine will recognise the style and energy of the format. Each of the activities is numerically ordered, with clear instructions. Some of them may be more difficult to do than others, such as wrapping pieces of sandpaper around each arm and securing with elastic bands. It sounds easy; I suspect it may be difficult without assistance. But with 33 different experiments listed and indexed and a good list of scientific concepts covered in the book, there is much of interest for would-be entomologists.
For those with an interest in the subject this will be a much browsed book, while for those on a specific research track the good indexing will provide access to the information. Many topics have a "What's going on?" section, which presents a straightforward (scientific) explanation of the observations of the activity. This paragraph uses correct scientific terms and chemical names and may be of higher reading level and interest than the remainder of the page."
"lively text briefly describes basic anatomy, methods of locomotion, communication, distinctive characteristics, and more about two dozen insects. Directions for close to three dozen simple experiments or activities are included, followed by an explanation of results; most employ inexpensive materials. While there are a couple of weak entries, most are well designed. An example of the latter: a section on termites gives directions for rigging a model termite mound (using a large garbage bag and a toilet paper roll) to show how the nest's internal temperature is controlled. Miscellaneous facts are offered in three separate sections, plus sidebars scattered throughout. A mix of cartoons and realistic drawings of insects, body parts, and steps in experiments accompanies the text on every page."
"What separates Becker's book from other insect-focused books is that Becker doesn't just provide fascinating insect facts; she also supplies child-friendly activities or experiments with virtually every two-page "chapter." For instance, instead of just reading about how insects eat, youngsters (and adults) can emulate the various methods that different insects use to ingest their food sources....For those who want to see insects up close, Becker presents the instructions for making a "Magnifying Bug Viewer" and a "Touochless Bug Catcher" (each accompanied by a reminder to release the insect after studying it)."