Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre & His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith, illustrated by Giuliano Ferri


Published by Two Lions

Summary:  Back in the early 1900’s, an eccentric old man lived in a village in France.  His neighbors observed him squatting in the sun for hours to watch beetles, and marveled that he would pay children to gather dead moles and lizards to attract flies.  Imagine their surprise when a procession of cars arrived at their quiet village one day, and out of one of them stepped the President of France!  Turns out the old man was Jean-Henri Fabre, a scientist whose lifelong passion was studying insects.  Other scientists had written about dead insects from faraway places, but Fabre was more interested in the bugs he saw in the fields and woods around him.  He liked to study the live ones to learn about their behavior.  Then he wrote about them in books so beautiful that the President of France came to his house to let him know he had been nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature.  While Fabre is little known today outside of France, his work influenced Darwin and inspired generations of naturalists.  Grades 2-5.

Pros:  This is an engaging biography of a little-known scientist, which includes a lot of interesting information about insects.  The illustrations capture the amazing creatures Fabre loved as well as his wide-eyed wonder of them throughout the nine decades of life.

Cons:  This is long for a picture book; probably best suited to older elementary students.

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