August 25, 2021

Burt the Beetle Doesn't Bite!

Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press
56 pp.
Ages 5-8
June 2021

While I may be cursing the mosquitoes and horseflies that are biting right now, award-winning author-illustrator Ashley Spires is showing her appreciation for the wealth of insect species inhabiting backyards and in particular a ten-lined June beetle called Burt.

From Burt the Beetle Doesn't Bite! by Ashley Spires

Showcasing Burt's attributes from his feathery antennae ("It's a style choice") to his all-natural furry belly, Ashley Spires introduces us to the insect often called a watermelon beetle. But when Burt notes the superpowers of ants, hawk moths, termites and stink bugs, he struggles to recognize what makes him so amazing. He tries to wink, tap dance, climb walls and fly but usually ends up on his back with legs flailing in the air. 

From Burt the Beetle Doesn't Bite! by Ashley Spires

But like any child looking to identify their own strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses, Burt perseveres and finds his sticky legs and his huggable nature a gift to some insects trapped in a spider web.

From Burt the Beetle Doesn't Bite! by Ashley Spires
With colourful humour such as calling a spider web "fancy bum string" (pg. 43) and bold illustrations that are both charming and surprisingly accurate (except for their faces, of course), Ashley Spires teaches, entertains and grabs readers' attentions. There may be countless books about insects but Burt the Beetle Doesn't Bite! educates without droning on about insects' defining characteristics like habitat, eating, and reproduction. Instead kids will learn about the ten-lined June beetle but also about ants and dragonflies, the Australian tiger beetle, hawk moths, echolocation, spraying of toxins and more. And if that's not enough, the end papers display "cards" depicting insects according to their superpowers from "Super Stingy" and "Super Bright Bum" to "Super Annoying" (that's the mosquito!) and "Super Deadly Farts." Finding out what insect matches its superpower will be half the fun of Burt the Beetle Doesn't Bite!
From Burt the Beetle Doesn't Bite! by Ashley Spires
Ashley Spires has always known how to entertain us with her graphic novels and picture books, having won the hearts of young readers with Binky the Space Cat (see my review of Binky Takes Charge, 2012) and inspired them with The Most Magnificent Thing (2014) and The Thing Lou Couldn't Do (2016). Now with Burt the Beetle Doesn't Bite!, she teaches, informing kids about insects in a colourful and playful way that camouflages the learning. That, and her illustrations and her humour must be her superpowers and I'm so glad she uses them for good.

🐞 🐞 🐞 🐞 🐞

A downloadable activity package from Kids Can Press is available at

No comments:

Post a Comment