If you've got a bug kid in your family, they will flip for this book. And if you don't, they'll certainly have a new appreciation for them after marveling at Steve Jenkins' latest work, a study of beetles. Like all of his paper craft collage books, Jenkins balances science and art with illustrations that serve as both accurate depictions of the natural world and also gorgeous works of design. In The Beetle Book, Jenkins covers a little of everything, with just the right amount of natural history tossed in, from basic beetle anatomy to the stages of a typical life cycle. Of course there's the smallest beetle, largest beetle, fastest, the one that boasts the longest antennae of any insect. But also beetles that glow, beetles that mimic a pile of bird droppings, and beetles that shoot boiling hot liquid into the face of their attackers. "Line up every kind of plant and animal on Earth... and one of every four will be a beetle," says Jenkins.
Descriptions are kept brief, and limited to each beetle's most interesting fact. Black silhouettes throughout the book are used to represent the true measurement of each beetle, although many are depicted in actual size. The titan beetle, for instance, takes up a whole page, and according to Jenkins its jaws are strong enough to snap a pencil in half. That interesting tidbit made both my son and I turn to each other with raised eyebrows.
Still, the best thing about beetles is that they're both exotic and familiar. This is the kind of book that inspires hole punching in Mason jar lids, and flipping over rocks in the backyard.
(Images: Ben Partridge)