Format: Hardcover Picture Book
Rating: 1-5: (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5
What did you like about the book? “May 17. I was born today! It’s a beautiful, sunny spring day!” So begins the diary of P. Mantis. The little praying mantis describes a summer of eating bugs (even some of its siblings!), shedding skin as it grows, and avoiding predators. Spoiler alert: P. is a girl which readers may be surprised to discover when she lays eggs near the end of her story. Though P. Mantis is anthropomorphized, the information she reveals is all factual. Her summer (and her life) ends with a final entry, dated October 17, that states, “I’m going to lie down now and take a long nap. Good-bye!” The artwork is lovely, and it perfectly captures the look and feel of the changing seasons. Both sets of end pages are crammed with additional mantis info.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Given that the disturbing reality of eating siblings and other bugs is unflinchingly displayed, it is surprising that there is no mention how P. Mantis’ eggs got fertilized. (Probably a good call, since females bite their consort’s heads off while mating and then eat the unfortunate male.)
To whom would you recommend this book? Tough one. The intended age appears to be kindergarten to second grade, but some might find it too graphic.
Readalikes: Doreen Cronin’s Diary of a Fly, Spider, and Worm books are similar, except that they handle the realities of the insect world more innocently.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries.
Where would you shelve it? Your choice. Shelve in picture books or in 595.7.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA
Date of review: 4/7/17