Join the cast of The Magic School Bus as they learn all about bugs.
The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Bugs is one of the longest Magic School Bus picture books I’ve seen and covers quite a bit of information (though none of it particularly in-depth).
In the story, Ms. Frizzle’s class is tasked with making a bug terrarium for the school’s science fair, but none of the kids manage to bring in live bugs. Arnold and Wanda can only get their hands on toys, while Keesha’s caterpillar has already died. But when Phoebe asks “What good are bugs, anyway?”, it launches the class into a mission to discover the usefulness of the world’s insects, arachnids, and other creepy crawlies.
If you’ve read a Magic School Bus picture book before, you’ll recall the way the information is presented; while the story takes place through the main illustrations, factoids and extra information is showcased in the form of tiny “reports” from the student characters. The first of these reports, before the main story gets under way, in Explores the World of Bugs takes a moment to explain the difference between “bug” as a slang term and “bug” as a scientific definition.
Throughout the rest of the book, the class is turned into honeybees, caterpillars, spiderlings, fireflies, whirligig beetles, grasshoppers, and mosquitoes. As bees, they learn about the function of antennae, the organization and social aspect of beehives, the jobs of female/worker bees, how bees make honey and beeswax, how bees pollinate plants, and bee stings. As caterpillars, they learn about butterfly eggs and larvae, caterpillar bodies, and cocoons and metamorphosis. As spiderlings, they learn about the growth of baby spiders, the difference between insects and spiders, spider silk, and how a spider spins a web. As fireflies, they learn about how and why fireflies “flash”. As whirligig beetles, they are introduced to the concept of carnivorous bugs and predator/prey relationships. As grasshoppers, they learn about grasshopper’s eyes, grasshopper “cousins” (crickets, locusts, and katydids), the life cycle of grasshoppers, and the praying mantis. As mosquitoes, they learn about mosquito larvae, the “whining” sound mosquitoes make as they fly, mosquito bits, prehistoric dragon flies, and the significance of bugs to the world’s food chains.
All in all, it’s a book that sings the praises about bugs while attempting to clear up some of the misconceptions. I recommend it to fans of the Magic School Bus series and parents looking to soothe some of their child’s fear or hatred of the world’s creepy crawly critters.
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