This book is a visual delight. Ron Broda's photographs of beautifully painted, detailed paper sculptures of moths, butterflies, caterpillars, beetles, and other creatures loosely described as "bugs", as well as their habitats, are ingeniously presented, and are accurate and true to life. They will satisfy those scientifically inclined, but should appeal even to someone apt to be squeamish about creepy-crawlies.
The text, though, is disappointing. Oppenheim has chosen to set it in rhyme, presumably to make it more fun for reading out loud. But the metre is so uneven that attempting to read it is like trying to walk on railway tracks-you constantly have to lengthen or shorten your stride, and can't develop a satisfying rhythm. Looking at and talking about the details of the pictures will probably be more enjoyable for child and adult.
The suggested age range is given as four years and up, but younger children would enjoy the brilliant colours and layout. Older children will appreciate the examples of the diversity and beauty of insect life. Someone interested in learning about insects in detail would probably prefer a well-illustrated science reference book. There is an index to the illustrations, but without a key to the specific insects there is a fair bit of guess-work involved in identifying which bug is what. Maybe only the bugs know for sure.
Liza Vandermeer is an officer in the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy.