Besides my family and science, I have many other passions. My latest passion has become children’s books. As a kid, I was either reading or outside, or sometimes reading outside! I loved both, though I do remember several times my mother telling me to “put down that book and go outside”. I was the stereotypical bespectacled nerdy kid with her nose in a book most of the time. So I guess it makes sense that now as a mom, I’m returning to kids books with a gusto. Of course, I love Dr. Seuss and his silly rhymes still inspire me (See a post on nutches and niches) but when I first found beautifully written and illustrated kids science books, I was instantly hooked. The problem is, there are few kids books about bacteria, and even fewer about beneficial bacteria. What books there are focus on “germs” and pathogens. Last year writer Nicola Davies and illustrator Emily Sutton began to fill this gap with Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes
I first read about it in the New York Times and immediately preordered 2 copies of the book. After all, I had to send one to school too! Tiny Creatures is geared to the K-3rd grade age group. The illustrations are quaint, clean watercolors that fabulously support and enhance the text. When I first showed my 6 year old daughter the pages on bacterial doubling her mouth literally fell open. That was awesome! The illustrator begins with every bacterium dividing every 20 minutes, which is the growth rate of bacteria like Escherichia coli that are common in guts. In a matter of 2 pages (representing 11.5 hours), the pages are filled with bacteria. Fabulous! It’s that kind of punch, both with images and text, that makes this book so great.
The text is filled with analogies. The author stuns readers with facts. The number of bacteria in a tablespoon of soil is similar to the number of people living in India. Millions of bacteria fit on an ant’s antennae. My daughter still recites these facts to me sometimes, which surprises me. The importance of microbes to people and the environment is also addressed. Tiny Creatures is packed with great science information that is delivered well. Kudos to Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton for engaging kids about the wonderful world of microbes.