We've been reading quite a bit about bugs lately and have a large bug unit study planned as soon as the weather warms up. In addition to this - my sons are really in in a Zombie stage at the moment so when I saw a book combining bugs and zombies it looked like just thing to spice our studies up a bit. There wasn't even a product description for this when we bought it as the Amazon description is for another book in this series, but the Natural History Museum logo in the corner sold me on this. I assume as The Natural History Museum is listed as co - author, that they will get some proceeds from this book, and I also expect anything they have endorsed to be well written, educational and have accurate facts.
The title caught my interest, and my sons' as well, but only a small portion of this book has anything to do with zombies - and they are not the George Romero type. But if the Zombie wasp were able to infect humans it would be an excellent subject for a horror film and may well have served as inspiration for the original Alien film. The wasp stings another insect paralysing but not killing it. The wasp then injects her egg into the poor creature's body. As the larvae grows it will very slowly eat its host alive before chewing through the abdomen and escaping to complete it's own life cycle. It sounds like a truly horrific death.
Other topics covered in this book include which types of insect have the most painful sting, swarms, very large bugs and an absolutely brilliant piece on the preying mantis. There is also a short section on camouflage with a pictured of camouflaged soldiers as well as two hidden insects. The photographs in this book are of truly exceptional quality and include some wonderful close ups.
My sons both loved searching for the bugs in the camouflage section, learning about ones with very painful stings for use in their own stories and most of all the preying mantis story. This story tells of the development of a real martial art Mantis Boxing, which it's creator, Wang Lang, claims was learned by watching a preying mantis. They were both fascinated in a gruesome sort of way by the zombie wasp, but both appeared slightly green as well, and they did feel sorry for the lady bird beetle pictured as the larva ripped its way though the poor beetles abdomen.
There is also a section on killer bees, using photographs from old horror films to illustrate swarm attacks on humans, and this section does mention actual human deaths as well. My sons weren't too worried by this when I explained the pictures were faked as part of a film, but I could see this frightening some children, and as many children already have some fear of insects - this could end up really terrifying a few. I would not buy this book for some else's young child without discussing it with the parents. You most certainly do not want to choose this for a child who is already terrified by creepy crawlies.
This book is part of Collin's Education's new series for reluctant readers : Read On. This series is designed to help children transition from level 3 to level 4 in reading attainment within Key Stage 3. This sounds complicated but it isn't. As always, department of Education wording is very vague but to simplify things this just means that children will begin to read from a wider range of reading material, transitioning to from a mixture of silent reading and guided group reading to reading independently. Children should be able to find and apply information in books, recognise themes and discuss the the main ideas of the book.
The title of this book is obviously geared towards reluctant readers - especially boys and this entire series seems very boy friendly. Text is large, black and double spaced in a standard font on an off white background. This makes this book ideal for struggling readers, especially those with dyslexia. The reading level is very easy - certainly no higher than Oxford level 9 or 10. I think most children would be able to read this by age 7, but I think children of 12 or 13 would still enjoy this book.
This book was expensive. I paid £5.55 from The Book Depository. amazon's prices are slightly higher @ £5.99 delivered. Used books once again are listed at a significantly higher price of £8.58 which I have always found odd as who would pay an extra £3 to get the book used instead of new? In spite of the high price - I am ordering another book from this series. This books makes reading exciting and fun and also manages to teach children something about science and nature as well. I do appreciate the obvious research and development of this book, as well as the quality of the printing, I like supporting The Natural History Museum, and I love seeing books like this printed which are combine high interest with low reading age texts. My son is only 7 but he prefers material written for older children. But he still wants pictures. I appreciate being able to find books like this that have a subject he really enjoys learning about, but still have pictures as well and can offer him a light an unchallenging read at times. Sometimes it's good to stretch yourself - but at other times it's nice just to relax. As much as I appreciate these books for this reason though, I also go out of my way to buy this type of book for another reason. Books like this that are not patronising or babyish can really make a difference for struggling readers, the more people buy these the more will be in print.