Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Behind the Books: Lucky Larvae

During my summer vacation, I did a lot of reading. One of my favorites was What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae: A Guide for Insect Parents (and Curious Kids) by Bridget Heos, illus by Stephane Jorisch (Millbrook, 2011).

Why did I like this book so much? I picked it up because I liked the clever concept. And boy did this book deliver. (Okay, pun intended.) The art is colorful and fun and quirky, and kids will love the engaging ,tongue-in-cheek tone. Heos got it just right. But most of all, I liked this book because it reminded me just how far kids books—especially nonfiction books--have come in the last decade.

I remember the day just about 10 years ago when my nephew, who was bug-crazy at the time, asked me to find him a book about bugs that were still growing up—just like him. I couldn’t find one, and my editor (at Millbrook, no less) agreed to write one. The result was Maggots, Grubs, and More: The Secret Lives of Young Insects.

Believe it or not, the writing style, color-coated sectional format, and fun design with large, colorful photos, were cutting edge for those days. But now I look at that book and laugh. The book has sold well, and the royalty checks continue to arrive twice a year, but by today’s standards, the design seems claustrophobic and the writing is, well, significantly less amusing than What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae.

So while Maggots, Grubs, and More is full of great information, and most of it is still scientifically accurate, I’m not sure how many kids would pick it up off the shelf and dive in. That’s why I’m so glad What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae exists. It covers much of the same material in a way that will entertain and educate young readers.


  1. I really liked "What to Expect" as well. A lot of fun, yet well researched and the illustrations are a hoot.

  2. Yup, it's reslly a fun little book. I can't wait to read the companion titles when they come out.