Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Little Buggers Insect & Spider Poems

The Little Buggers: Insect & Spider Poems
By J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Victoria Chess

A Readers’ Guide by Lisa Kreutziger
Lewis, J. Patrick. 1998. The Little Buggers: Insect and Spider Poems. Ill. by Victoria Chess. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0-8037-1769-5

Recommended Age Levels
Ages 4 to 9
Summary of Book
This collection of twenty-four poems offers an engaging and entertaining look at some of the creepiest and crawliest of Earth’s insects and spiders.  From a “lowly termite” advising kids to stop chewing their pencils, to a patient “praying mantis”, who after finally meeting her mate “ate the pesky fellow”, Lewis’s poems manage to capture some of the true nature of its subject while also delighting the audience with wit and word play.  The book includes examples of both free verse and rhyming poems that are accompanied by Victoria Chess’s wonderfully detailed and playful watercolor and Pelikan sepia artwork.

Review Excerpts
“Lewis…has keen antennae for wordplay, seeking ways to exploit types of insects by making their attributes humorous.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Grounded in careful observation that ferrets out realistic details of the insect world, his agile verse is both clever and devilishly funny…” – Publishers Weekly
“Delicate, fiendishly agile illustrations…offer a perfect complement to the tone and humor.”
– School Library Journal
Questions to Ask Before Reading
Invite children to discuss the following:
*Play on Words (author’s craft): How do author’s “play” with words? Show the cover and ask why the author chose the word “bugger” for the title.  Make the connection to multiple meaning words.
*Have you ever sat and watched an insect or spider?  What have you observed them doing?
*What are some interesting facts you know about insects or spiders? How you could make up a silly story or poem about them using that fact?
Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
“Mayfly and June Bug” – Line-Around: Ask for volunteers to take turns reading one line aloud. Practice and repeat until effective rhythm and expression are found.
“The Pond Glider” – Chorus: After adult read aloud, invite children to participate in choral reading the word “Damselfly” at the beginning of each couplet.
“In Books Are Bugs” – Groups: After adult read aloud, divide students into small groups in which they practice one particular stanza.  When ready the whole class participates in a read aloud with each group standing and reciting their stanza with appropriate cadence and feeling.
Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. Children’s Literature in Action. Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 978-1-59158-557-2
Follow Up Activities
Science: Insect Characteristics and Habitats
During “School Yard Habitat” investigation, students use observations of insects to create poems and silly stories about the insects using some of their unique characteristics and/or habitat.
Writing: Author’s Craft: Word Play and Multiple meaning words. 
Connect to familiar authors such as Shel Silverstein.  Study and display some play on words, then try creating some of your own with a partner.  Scaffolding: teacher may supply a list of words to choose from and a familiar rhythmic pattern.

Featured Poet Display/Study and Author Visit
Reading Comprehension: Compare and Contrast
Choose a related fiction or nonfiction book to due a paired book study.  Compare and contrast genre elements, content, author’s craft, author’s purpose, etc.

Related Web Sites/Blogs
The author’s web site: http://www.jpatricklewis.com/
Insect web site: http://www.insectclopedia.com/
ALA’s Great Websites for Kids “Authors and Illustrators” Page: http://www.ala.org/gwstemplate.cfm?section=greatwebsites&template=/cfapps/gws/displaysection.cfm&sec=16
Poetry website: http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/poetry/
Related Books
Cyrus, Kurt. 2001. Oddhopper Opera: A Bug’s Garden of Verses. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace. ISBN 9780152022051
Fleming, Denise. 1991. In the Tall, Tall Grass. New York: H. Holt. ISBN 9780805016352
Pinczes, Elinor J. 1995. A Remainder of One. San Diego: Harcourt Brace. ISBN 9780152013066
Monks, Lydia. 2004. Aaaarrgghh! Spider! Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618432509
Bulion, Leslie. 2006. Hey There, Stink Bug! Ill. by Leslie Evans. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781580893046
Florian, Douglas. 1998. Insectlopedia: Poems and Paintings. San Diego: Harcourt Brace. ISBN 9780152013066
Markle, Sandra. 2009. Insects: Biggest! Littlest! Honesdale, Pa.: Boyds Mills Press. ISBN 9781590785126
Slade, Suzanne. 2009. Insects: Six Legged Animals. Ill. by Rosiland Solomon. Minneapolis, Minn.: Capstone Press Inc. ISBN 9781404855243
Tait, Noel. 2008. Insects and Spiders. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN 9781416938682

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