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Home | LS5603 Children's and YA Literature | LS6643 Nonfiction for Children and YA

Insectlopedia Florian, Douglas.  1998.  Insectlopedia.  San Diego:  Harcourt Brace and Company.  ISBN:  0152013067.

Taking his title from a variation of the word encyclopedia, Florian uses poetry and dramatic illustrations to introduce readers to insects and their characteristics.  Although each poem is about an insect, Florian's imagination is evident as he chooses to highlight attributes of each that make it unique.  

Some of the poems use sound elements to show their traits.  In The Army Ants (p.13), the first lines are "Left, Right, Left, Right," and give the sense that these words can be read as if they were a cadence.  The accompanying pictures seems to encourage this as ants are seen marching off the page in formation.

Several poems use formatting to allow the words to portray a feature of the insect that is the subject of the poem.  In The Termites (p.38), the lines of the poem are formatted so that the finished product resembles a termite mound.  Another example is The Whirligig Beetles (p.22), which is written in a circle.

Florian also uses word play in some poems, and these words are highlighted in bold.  In The Praying Mantis (p.17), the insect speaks in the first person.  In describing how she eats her prey, the bug says "Religiously."  The double meaning for this word is obvious as it refers to both the manner in which the insect eats and also its name.

On the final printed page of the book, Florian's artwork is described as watercolor on primed brown paper bags with collage.  Each illustration is strikingly different in its approach, and the reader never knows what to expect from one page to the next.  In the illustration for The Daddy Longlegs, the insect seems to be laughing along with the reader as he lifts weights to keep his long legs in shape.  In contrast, the illustration for The Mosquitoes has a DaVinci quality to it as a human arm is seen from the perspective of an anatomy chart.  Watercolor mosquitoes perched on the arm drill directly into its veins.  Vials of blood labeled "A," "AB," and "O" and also the word "Mosquito" frame the arm.

Florian has taken a seemingly simple subject and shown it to the reader from a new angle.  Insectlopedia looks at the insect world from a new perspective that will delight and challenge children to think in new ways.  .

All Materials for this Site created by:
Holly S.
Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University