8/1/07 School Library Journal
One or two large-print sentences are set within a wide colored margin that borders a full- or double-page color photo of the featured creature. While all of the titles briefly describe the major physical and behavioral characteristics shared by all the subject animals-such as antennae, eyes, wings, jaws, defense mechanisms, etc.-each one has a different focus. Beetles emphasizes the great diversity in size, body shape, color, etc., found in the largest insect order. Cicadas concentrates on its insects' life cycle, and Praying Mantises elaborates on the predators' physiology while also mentioning feeding habits. Some additional facts are offered in the glossary, albeit in small print. The best feature in all of the books is the sharply defined close-up photos, some of which include labels for body parts. While the minimal texts are clearly written, the amount of information they provide is, understandably, limited. Ann Squire's
Cicadas (Children's Press, 2003) has a more complete description of the insect's life cycle and also explains how male cicadas make their distinctive buzzing sound. Rebecca Stefoff's Beetle (Benchmark, 1997) has the same focus on diversity as the Sexton title, but also includes information on diet and life cycle and identifies the species depicted. Of the three Sexton titles, Praying Mantises is the best bet. With its excellent photos and simple text it will be a useful introduction.