Bugs in danger by Mark Kurlansky

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Illus. by Jia Liu. Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781547600854.
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Subtitled Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles. Imagine reading a book by an author who is knowledgeable about a specialised subject and so skilled at writing, that learning while you read is a pleasure. Mark Kurlansky is such an author and the insects that are disappearing from our world are his subject.
Bugs in Danger is an informative and interesting exploration of the lives of insects, their interaction with humans over the ages, and the predators, pesticides and habitat destruction that threaten their existence. Throughout the text, Kurlansky emphasises the role played by insects in the survival of life on earth. The book is divided into five parts, each one dealing with a class of insects. The final chapter, 'What Can I Do?' suggests simple but effective strategies that people of all ages can use to save these tiny creatures. Humorous chapter headings add to the pleasure of reading the text, without detracting from its serious purpose. Despite his conversational writing style, Kurlansky uses scientific terms, explaining them clearly so that readers do not feel overwhelmed by expert knowledge. Similarly, the author weaves aspects of the work of scientists, including Charles Darwin, into the exposition. Although the book is largely concerned with insects in the United States, it includes references to species from around the world. Occasional text boxes provide additional information and statistics, while Jia Liu's drawings in shades of grey illustrate different species or help to explain insect behaviour. A bibliography, which has been divided into titles for younger and older readers, and a comprehensive index ensure that the book is a useful source of information.
Bugs in Danger is not only an enjoyable and rewarding book. It also provides a thought-provoking insight into what might be lost if insects disappeared.
Elizabeth Bor