Review: Bugged: How Insects Changed History

bugged“Nearly everyone has a strong opinion about insects. But whether you love them or loathe them, they are impossible to avoid. For every pound of us, there are three hundred pounds of insects.”

So begins chapter one of Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee (9780802734235. April 2014. Gr. 5-8), and as a Minnesotan with a strong opinion about bugs (especially mosquitoes), I can’t disagree.

In Minnesota, summer means bugs. If you are skeptical of that statement, check out Minnesota Bug Hunt by Bruce Giebink (9780873518659. 2013. Gr. 1-3) for a look at the sorts of insects you might see in a Minnesota summer. The close-up photographs are more than enough to give me that creepy-crawly feeling, but the level of creepy-crawly grossness in that book is nowhere near the level of creepy-crawly grossness of Bugged.

It isn’t just about the shock value, though. Bugged is, at its core, a history book filled with a vast array of bug related bits of information—from the way that diseased fleas or flies in ancient Assyria led to the eventual rise of monotheistic religions like Christianity and Islam to the pest-related pandemics of the middle ages that took so many lives in Europe and beyond. The book even covers some modern issues like pesticides and parasites. Along the way there are call out boxes filled with the really gross extra information for the readers with strong stomachs. Don’t miss the recipe for chocolate-covered crickets in chapter three.

Insects have done all sorts of good things for us too, of course, despite all the disease and suffering covered in this book. They actually do all sorts of things that we can’t really live without, like pollinate plants and enrich the soil. It’s good, then, that the book concludes with a list of tips for kids who want to live with insects and stay healthy at the same time.

This is a high interest blend of science and history that is a great choice for a middle school library no matter what strong opinions about insects you may have.

Related titles for your middle school library:

Battling Malaria by Connie Goldsmith. 9780822585800. 2011. Gr. 7-12

Hive Detectives by Loree Griffin Burns. 9780547152318. 2010. Gr. 4-8

Plagues, Pox, and Pestilence by Richard Platt. 9780753466872. 2011. Gr. 4-7

Understanding Insects by Tamara Orr. 9781624317835. 2014. Gr. 4-7

Weird Insects by Michael Worek. 9781770852358. 2013. Gr. 5-7


mindyF Blogger: Mindy R.