I’m a big fan of Steve Jenkins. His books are such a perfect combo of fascinating facts and beautifully detailed illustrations. In this brand-spanking-new book we learned that:
*If you line up every kind of plant and animal on Earth, one of every four is a beetle.
*Beetles range in size from the titan beetle (bigger than my hand) to the clown beetle (about the size of the period at the end of this sentence).
*More than 350,000 different kinds of beetles have been named but there are thought to be more than a million beetle species.
*Many beetle species are weird and wonderful. There is the forest fire beetle that detects a fire from 20 miles away, flies to the site and lays its eggs in the charred wood- now safe from predators. There is the rove beetle that contains a toxin more potent than cobra venom. There is the ironclad beetle that hides from predators by being very still and looking like bird poop. And there is my boys’ favorite: the bombadier beetle that squirts a blinding, boiling liquid into the face of an attacker from its rear.
We spent a long happy morning all reading this book together. It’s packed full of information on beetles and visually interesting. I liked that in addition to the blown-up detailed pictures of the beetles, Jenkins also includes actual size silhouettes of each beetle on the page. That made for a very quick way of seeing the immense variation not just in color and function but in size.
Just a Second has all the things I expect from Jenkins: beautiful paper collage illustrations and a detailed exploration of a topic. However, it’s at a slightly higher level conceptually than some of his other books. My science loving 8 year old really got into it, but my 5 year old didn’t really understand it.
The concept is that Jenkins looks at a variety of things that happen in a second. For example: a midge beats its wings 1000 times, a cheetah sprinting flat out travels 100 feet, and four babies are born on Earth. He then looks at events happening in expanding units of time from a minute to an hour to a week, month and year. At the end he includes some tidbits about things that occur in unimaginably small and large increments of time (the Shasta salamander snaps up an insect in 1/100 of a second, a voyage across our galaxy would last 2 billion years).
The concept of time is difficult for a young child (as is the concept of distance or size which a lot of the examples also use). But for an older child (or adult) this is a fantastic book. I liked that Jenkins also includes information on each page about the particular unit of time (second, month, year) and what it really means. The end pages contain much more in depth information about the evolution of units to measure time.
More on Steve Jenkins:
A review I did last year of some of our favorites of his.
Another review of some of his books with his wife, Robin Page.
Steve Jenkins’ website (with a great link on how he makes his books)
Don’t forget to stop by Hope is the Word for more Read Aloud Thursday.