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The Icky Bug Counting Book

While cleaning out our many bookshelves last week, I ran across a book called The Icky Bug Counting Book. I have no idea where it came from; at first I thought it was a book my parents had purchased my daughter at a book fair, but it was written in 1992, so I now think it must have been in one of our many “bargain book” purchases, or big boxes of books that we buy at yard sales now and then for a few dollars.

If you have a bug lover on your hands, Jerry Pallotta’s book is definitely for you. It’s a counting book, sure; it starts at zero and goes all of the way up to 26 (Pallotta tells you why on the last page in a sort of riddle, which is fun). But it’s much more than that. It’s a book that actually tells you lots of cool facts about each insect that it counts, which will surely be fascinating for your young entomologist.

For example, number one is one Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly. The fun fact that butterflies taste things with their feet is revealed, which will surely make kids squeal! Each page features a similar insect and fact, which I love because it’s engaging without being overwhelming. A big list of facts gets old quickly; my daughter and I love to check out such books but we rarely read through the bulk of them in their entirety. On the butterfly page, after the fact is presented, the author asks if the readers can picture themselves tasting treats like ice cream with their own feet. I really like this imaginative approach.

Other bugs that children will learn about in the book, which features illustrations by Ralph Masiello, include Yellowjacket Flies, Crab Spiders, Paper Wasps, Underwing Moths, Monarch Butterflies, and several other species. I had never heard of the Trap Jaw Ant, which catches other bugs in its mouth. The term Question Mark Caterpillar (as well as its adult form, the Question Mark Butterfly) was completely new to me as well.

Even though it’s called an icky book, this counting book really doesn’t have any gross photos or too-gross facts; in fact, it’s quite friendly, with muted yet lovely illustrations and engaging text. I think both boys and girls would enjoy reading this book, and one of the beauties of it is that you can use it for younger children who want to learn to count—with or without including the fun facts—as well as with older kids who just want to learn the funny things about the bugs inside.