Bonkers About Beetles


Owen Davey, Bonkers About Beetles, Flying Eye Books, August 2018, 40 pp., $27.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781911171485

Bonkers about Beetles is a non-fiction text about, yes you guessed it, Beetles!

The first thing I noticed about this book was its beautiful presentation. It is a hardcover with a lovely matte textured finish to the pages and warm earth-toned colours used throughout. Davey’s illustrations are wonderful in their graphic, geometric, larger than life representation of beetles. Even if you weren’t interested to read about the topic I think you could still appreciate the book for its artistic content.

The textual content is comprehensive but presented in small achievable chunks per page, so not too overwhelming for younger readers. It is also written in a semi-formal tone that helps to give a bit more personality to otherwise dry facts. The titles and sub-titles are also less traditional to a non-fiction text, being more imaginatively conceived and adding to the enjoyment for the reader.

‘Beetles’ is quite a diverse topic – but Davey manages to achieve a good balance of general facts with more specific examples of individual species. There is no shortage of interesting facts to be discovered about this group of insects and a nice touch is that there are several instances throughout that directly involve the reader, for example to ‘spot the camouflaged beetle’ or instructions on how to make your own bug hotel. The only feature I felt was missing was a glossary, new terms are introduced and explained, but a glossary at the end would be useful too.

This book could be enjoyed individually, there are a lot of details and information to pore over, but equally it is large enough to be shared as a whole class book, perhaps focussing on a particular sub-topic per lesson. The possibilities to use this book for multiple discipline activities are wide:

Maths – symmetry, shapes, flight patterns, size

English – non-fiction texts, latin origins and meanings

Science –  biology, life cycles, animal behaviour

Art – patterns, shapes, camouflage, designs

Social Science – Beetle mythology

Even if this book doesn’t literally make readers ‘Bonkers about Beetles‘, its high quality presentation and content is bound to entertain, interest and maybe even initiate exploration for young readers.

Reviewed by Julie Bertola

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