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Early Graphic Novel – Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite!


Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires

(Kids Can Press; $12.99, Ages 5-8)



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Sticky Burt is a bug who hugs!


Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite! is the first in a new series by Ashley Spires, the author and illustrator of The Most Magnificent Thing and the Binky adventure series.

Meet Burt, he’s a ten-lined June (or watermelon) beetle. Burt has feathered antennae, a large body, a sticky abdomen, and can flail his legs when he falls on his back (but needs assistance flipping over). He notices that other insects have special or “super” abilities. A bumblebee is a “super hard worker” and ants can carry heavy loads. So what makes Burt special? Well, he’s trying to figure this out. As Burt meets more insects and learns about their amazing features, he wonders what his “super” ability is. Would winking count? How about hanging out around porch lights? Trying to imitate other insects’ super abilities doesn’t work either and Burt continually ends up on his back.


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Interior artwork from Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite! written and illustrated by Ashley Spires, Kids Can Press ©2021.


When Burt discovers a spider web with insects trapped in it, he’s amazed to find that their super abilities cannot free them from the web. As the venomous spider taunts Burt, he realizes he does have some super abilities. Burt’s a hugger and he happens to be sticky, too. Furthermore, he’s big and heavy enough to tear up the spider’s web when he falls on it, saving the other insects–and landing on his back once again. This time he has very grateful friends to help him flip over!

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Interior artwork from Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite! written and illustrated by Ashley Spires, Kids Can Press ©2021.


Cheerful and upbeat humor shines in this book. Commenting on his feathery antennae, Burt notes “it’s a style choice.” Gentle quips are exchanged between characters. When the spider, firmly stuck to Burt’s abdomen, asks “is this ever going to end?” Burt replies “I guess you’re stuck with me. Get it?” Exaggerated bodies and expressive faces, especially “bug” eyes, add to the enjoyment. 


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Interior artwork from Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite! written and illustrated by Ashley Spires, Kids Can Press ©2021.


Spires has created a graphic novel designed for younger readers, especially those new to the graphic novel format. The panels are clean and well organized, without a lot of distractions. The number of characters and speech bubbles in a panel are kept to a minimum and the print is bold and slightly larger than usual.  This book is appropriate for independent readers or as a read-aloud for emerging readers.  

The book includes some themes which could be used to invite children to discuss character and friendship. Burt’s search for what makes him unique is something children also explore for themselves. Perseverance is a challenge for children, but Burt’s positive “can do” type of behavior in the face of repeated failures may encourage them to keep trying. He takes care of his friends and “doesn’t bite because that’s not how you make friends.”

Lastly, this graphic novel engages children in the natural world around them, weaving in factual information about insects and including “awesome insect super facts” in the back matter. Hopefully, it will inspire children to continue exploring the world of insects and their “super” abilities. 

  • Reviewed by Dornel Cerro
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Chirp, Click, Buzzzzzzz

BUG_COVERI absolutely love bugs! In fact, if I were not a writer, I’d choose to be an entomologist. There’s just so much to learn about bugs, and they are so fascinating to look at, too. Noisy Bug Sing-a-long ($8.95, Dawn Publications, Ages 3-8) written and illustrated by John Himmelman provides the littlest readers with a delightful introduction to the world of common bugs. Himmelman, who has written and illustrated more than 75 children’s books, started a “Bug Club” when he was eight years old. He has since co-founded the Connecticut Butterfly Association. How wonderful it is that he utilizes this love of nature to educate and express himself through his books!

Inside the pages of Noisy Bug Sing-a-long are big bold, eye-catching illustrations, with close-up detail of bugs and their surroundings. Simple one line prose teach readers about the sounds each critter makes, while the illustrations teach them about the environments where one may find them.

In the back of the book are illustrations of the sound waves coming from each bug, plus more information about the different species and tips about what to watch and listen for when you are looking for bugs in your own back yard.


Curious kids will love Noisy Bug Sing-a-long.  When my daughter (now in college studying Geology) was young, I bought her a plastic bug box that came with a little magnifying glass. She would spend hours catching and studying bugs before releasing them back into the wild.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading many Dawn Publications books, and each and every title educates children about plant and animal life on our planet, how to identify it, grow it, respect it, care for it and learn more about it. What a terrific mission that is.

-Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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National Geographic Educates Kids of All Ages in Many Creative Ways

Debbie Glade has looked at 5 different National Geographic books and reviews them all here today.

6300526Everyone adores National Geographic, including me! So I was thrilled to dive right into a stack of National Geographic Kids books. We’ll start with the two short, paperback, Easy-to-Read books for Curious Kids. Trucks! (Level 1 reader, $3.99) by Wil Mara will satisfy the interests of the child(ren) you know who can’t stop playing with and talking about trucks. Slick, the truck driver, teaches kids about all kinds of different trucks, from cement trucks to mixers and from haulers to big rigs. The book has large photographs rather than illustrations and adds simple copy ideal for the early reader.

6300528Mummies (Level 2 reader, $3.99) by Elizabeth Carney is a little bit creepy in all the right ways. There are both photographs and illustrations of mummies, plus basic information that a young reader wants to know. (The book is not for the faint of heart because it mentions bodies decaying, removing organs for mummification and other gory, but fascinating facts.) I like that this book introduces kids to ancient Egypt and the origin of mummification. At the back of the book is a simple fill in the blank page so readers can use the science words they learned.

6300582Now on to the two paperback Picture the Seasons books by Jill Esbaum. Being an avid gardener myself, I treasure books like these that teach young readers a bit about what it takes to grow food. Seed Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie ($5.95, ages 4-8) is a simple book all about pumpkins and squash. From planting, flowering and growing to how the vegetables are used in our food (and as jack-o-lanterns), Pumpkin Pie will introduce early readers to the world of pumpkins. Apples for Everyone will take the reader on a journey from planting to harvesting and from bobbing to eating apples. I learned what I had already suspected; apples are eaten in America more than any other fruit. I eat at least one a day and so should you! The photographs are wonderful in both of these straightforward books.

6300519Being an author myself, who wrote a book about bugs, I am fascinated with Science Fair Winners: Bug Science ($12.95, ages 11-14) by Karen Romano Young. This book is for middle readers who need ideas for their science fair projects. The book has cute illustrations by David Goldin and contains 20 different workshops for getting acquainted with bugs and using what you learned for a science fair project. I was instantly attracted to Workshop #4 “Honey Help Me with this Hay Fever,” because I have lessened my own allergy symptoms by eating a lot of local honey. Honey contains pollen, and eating local pollen is said to be similar to getting allergy shots. Among the many other great lessons in Bug Science are: trying to make an ant get lost, learning what color a butterfly likes best, composting with worms, studying spider phobias and many others. At the end of the book is a short chapter about presenting your findings. I love Science Fair Winners: Bug Science. It’s fun and educational, and it gets kids thinking creatively when it comes time to do their rite-of-passage science fair projects. I wish we had this book when my daughter was doing her science fair project years ago trying to prove that mint repels ants. (And it does!)

debbieglade1-150x150Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for She blogs daily at

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Add These Books to Your Collection

p1210564Today’s guest review family is the Medina family from the San Fernando Valley area. Audrey Medina, a mother of two works at Wella Corp as Color Tech Support and her husband, Tony Medina works as an ad developer for Los Angeles News Group. They are the proud parents of Gavin, a Pre-K student in Woodland Hills and Reese, their 6 month old cutie pie.


9781416950561My son Gavin is four. He was immediately drawn to the stark graphic illustrations as well as the interactive pop up sequences in School Bugs by David A Carter. The text nicely bolstered the illustrations. It was short, sweet and a nice paced read, the perfect night capper for the kiddies.

I would not recommend this book for very young toddlers in observance of the intricate pop ups which might tear easily, or at the very least not something left on the book shelf within the reach of the young toddlers. However I do recommend it highly for the rest looking to bolster their story book library.


9780545101455_lgThe illustrations in There Was An Old Monster, by Rebecca Emberley with illustrations by Ed Emberley and Rebecca Emberley, were subdued against the dark backdrop of the pages.
I felt with the proper reading style (low gruff dramatic voice) Gavin’s interest was held. Also accompanied by the occasional scare and grab tactics for emphasis. For those nights when some energy is in vast reserve this book helped expend some of it.

I do recommend it highly for the over age 3 crowd.

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