Bug Butts


Praise for Bug Butts

WINNER, Animal Behavior Society's (ABS) Outstanding Children's Book Award for 2010

Quoted from the award letter:

"We are pleased to announce that Bug Butts, by Dawn Cusick, has been selected as the winner of the Animal Behavior Society’s (ABS) Outstanding Children’s Book Award for 2010. In class testing with over 232 elementary-school students throughout the United States, children selected Bug Butts as their clear favorite among four finalist books selected by members of the ABS Outstanding Children’s Book Award Committee. The four finalist books were selected out of a cohort of dozens of book submissions.

"EarlyLight Books publishes works that combine “real science” and “real fun”. Making information fun is invaluable for grabbing the attention of children (and adults), and making learning about the natural world more engaging and memorable. Bug Butts does an admirable job of making the science of animal behavior fun, and this is certainly one reason why it was preferred by children. But from scientific and educational points of view, what is most exceptional about Bug Butts is that it does what the absolute best science teaching does—it focuses on the actual process of scientific discovery. In so doing, it goes far beyond teaching selected factoids; it helps readers learn how to make their own discoveries about the natural world, which is at the very heart of real science."


School Library Journal

Gr 3–5—This introduction breaks new ground as it examines the unusual adaptations involving the anuses (referred to as "butts" throughout) of close to two dozen kinds of insects, each of which is the focus of a picture spread. Short paragraphs of text, set in the backgrounds of brightly colored paintings of the insects in natural settings (greens, yellows, and browns predominate), describe special physical and/or behavioral characteristics that help them survive. For instance, spittlebug nymphs excrete large amounts of fluid, derived from plant sap that they churn into enough froth to completely cover their bodies, thus protecting themselves from both the elements and predators. A section at the end of the book describes basic insect anatomy and has simple diagrams. Bug Butts boasts a colorful format (the spreads have different colored borders, with headings in bright red) and a clearly written text. Readers will need some background in biology, however, as some scientific terms are not defined (e.g., "molting," "exoskeletons"); the terms for insects' metamorphic development are only defined in the glossary. Other general introductions include some of the same insects but do not have Cusick's unique point of view.—Karey Wehner, formerly at San Francisco Public Library



Reviewed by Christine Royce
Assistant Professor of Education

The ability to grab students’ attention and engage them in reading is often enhanced by the “ick” factor. This book definitely will grab some readers' attention as they delve into the realistic details in this book. This topic might seem disgusting to adults, but it will captivate students as they learn about anatomical adaptations that allow some insects to survive.

The book is well researched and has been reviewed by multiple scientists in the entomology field. It contains colorful illustrations and captivating descriptions of how bugs use their butts. Each two-page spread provides an illustration and a narrative. Examples of topics include how insects use their abdominal adaptations to survive, move, and fight. Vocabulary about insect anatomy as well as insect names are provided where appropriate and flow smoothly within the text. The end of the book provides illustrations and information that is grade-level appropriate; this covers the actual anatomy of an insect and describes how food is ingested by a bug and eventually excreted by the particular butt in question.

Also included is an index and glossary that will enhance students' understanding. While it is often said that a book will be a good addition to the classroom library, this book will be a great addition to the classroom or school library. It will engage readers in a topic that is often not talked about—in the words of young readers "butts"—while at the same time provide them with accurate information about adaptations of insects that help them to survive.

Review posted on 9/28/2009


SB&F (Science Books & Film, AAAS)
“Highly Recommended”


Mary Ann Grossman
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Butts and poop. Could any kid, especially a boy, resist that combination? Dawn Cusick uses kids' interest in all things gross to teach about the world's insects in this book that gives information so cleverly young readers won't even realize they are learning. The premise is that bugs use adaptations in their rear ends in lots of ways. Cusick answers such riveting questions as: "How far can caterpillars shoot their poop?" (Up to 40 times farther than the length of their bodies.) Did you know bark beetles use their poop to communicate? Well, they do.

"Bug Butts" is illustrated with big, boldly colored pictures by Haude Levesque, who just finished a post-doctoral degree in fish pheromones at the University of Minnesota. She learned digital illustrating techniques in a U of M insect illustration course taught by Dr. Ralph Holzenthal.