Kids' Book Review: Biggest Bugs, by George Beccaloni (Firefly Books)

Biggest Bugs
By George Beccaloni
Firefly Books, 86 pages, $19.95 (Ages 9 and up)

Page 43 of Biggest Bugs (Firefly books) folds outward to accommodate a life-size photograph of the world’s longest insect, Chan’s megastick. It’s 14 inches. That could stretch across some TV screens! If you’ve got an insect (or arthropod)-obsessed kid, she’ll want to see the amazing image of this specimen, not to mention all of the other cool creepy-crawly photos that swarm author George Beccaloni’s book.

Beccaloni defines biggest to mean “the largest body length or greatest wingspan” (though in many cases, the biggest length-wise are the heaviest) and includes a hefty sampling of 35 big "bugs" from all around the world, along with informative text and geographic maps. There’s the Amazonian giant centipede, for example, a magenta-lavender creature that lives primarily in northern South America and some islands in the Caribbean. This leggy guy feeds on, among other organisms, frogs, lizards, mice (for a video of this meal, click here), and even birds. Want to see a cricket worth chirping over? Show your kid the imperial bush cricket, a denizen of Malaysia and “one of two contenders for the title of orthopteran [an insect order] with the greatest wingspan” (it reaches about 10.75 inches). Even for the skittish, its hard not to marvel at these buggy behemoths. At least in thise case, they’re confined to the safety of the page.

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