The poems in NASTY BUGS Lee Bennett Hopkins are itchingly great


15034Crossposted on Daily Kos

Gross! … Boys will love this collection … a book of poetry with a decided ick factor. The bugs are delightfully nasty and include magots, chiggers, wasps, lice and bed bugs.

Nasty Bugs by Lee Bennett Hopkins is a collection of creepy, crawly poems by some of today’s most beloved children’s poets.

This tribute to the delightful nastiness of bugs features sixteen poems by accomplished children’s poets, including Marilyn Singer, J. Patrick Lewis, and Rebecca Andrew Loescher. From “Ode to a Dead Mosquito” to “Termite Tune,” this brightly illustrated, kid-friendly collection riffs on the details of the world’s most infamous insects. Fun facts about the featured creatures round out this sure bet for poetry fans and bug enthusiasts alike.

According to Jessica Yang at Cracking the Cover:

Are you a fan of creepy crawly bugs? Ones that make your friends squirm? Maybe you just like admiring them from afar. “Nasty Bugs” takes readers into the worlds of 16 creepy crawlies through bright illustrations and creative poems. Wonder why a stink bug stinks? Cynthia S. Cotton explains the reason for their odiferous smell in “Stink Bug;” Lee Bennett Hopkins makes jabs and some stinging pests in “Ode to a Dead Mosquito:” And you’ll never see them coming in April Halprin Wayland’s “Fire Ants.”

There’s nothing cuddly about the nasty bugs. Even presented in this humorous book, there none to friendly. Bold, almost Pixar-esque illustrations give readers a close-up look at maggots, flies and lice. “Nasty Bugs” is a fun, fast-moving book of poetry. Kids will enjoy the bigger-than-life illustrations and tongue-in-cheek text. Fun facts about each bug, which are found at the end of the book, are an added bonus.

The poems are itchingly great.

Here is a video review by Liz Shanks:

Here is a review from Goodreads:

Sixteen poems, three of which were commissioned for this book, inform and entertain readers. Poets include Hopkins, X. J. Kennedy, Marilyn Singer, J. Patrick Lewis, Alice Schertle, Douglas Florian, and several other well-known poets. Their creatures bite and suck their ways through plants, animals, humans, and stuff like wood in poems of free verse or tight rhythm and rhyme. The vocabulary is marvelous, with inventive words such as “yum-yucky,” and “pediculous,” descriptive terms such as writhing, stealthy, and blood-filled, and rich language filled with words like armament, marbled, gobble, genealogy. These poems aren’t just for fun, though, as they are packed with information about the bugs’ modus operandi and/or consequences of their action. Many familiar insects, including bedbugs, fleas, lice, mosquitoes, and wasps, are included along with some less familiar (boll weevil, potato beetle, chigger). Will Terry’s brightly colored illustrations mostly fill the pages, with the poems lying over each illustration. His bugs feature exaggerated eyes, legs, and stingers as they skitter, crawl, or eat their way across each page. His focus is always the bug’s line and shape, but each drawing is filled with other details to add to the ick-factor. His perspectives vary and draw the reader into the situation. I guarantee these poems and illustrations will have you scratching before the end of the book! Three pages of information on each bug are an added plus; this backmatter includes a thumbprint size illustration, a one-liner from the poem, the bugs scientific name or order, and facts about each bug. The poems read aloud well and offer some opportunities for dramatic readings. This isn’t just for budding entomologists; even those grossed out by bugs of all shapes and sizes will be smiling as they learn. — Peg

Lee Bennett Hopkins has written and edited numerous award-winning books for children and young adults, as well as professional texts and curriculum materials. He has taught elementary school and served as a consultant to school systems throughout the country.

Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Hopkins graduated Kean University, Bank Street College of Education, and holds a Professional Diploma in Educational Supervision and Administration from Hunter College. In 1980 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Kean University.

In 1989 he received the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature” in recognition of his work; 2009 brought him the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children, recognizing his aggregate body of work. In 2010 he received the Florida Libraries’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition to his anthologies, his own works include:

  • Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life (Boyds Mills Press), an autobiographical book of poetry that received the prestigious Christopher Medal and a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Golden Kite Honor Award
  • Alphathoughts: Alphabet Poems
  • City I Love (Abrams, 2009), illustrated by jazz musician Marcellus Hall, starred in both PW and SLJ
  • Full Moon and Star (Abrams, 2011), also illustrated by Hall
  • Mama: A Novel (Boyds Mills Press) paperback
  • Mama & Her Boys: A Novel (Boyds Mills Pess) paperback

His creativity is the result of his passion for poetry and his unflagging belief that poetry is a necessity for children, at home and in the classroom.

His award winning series of American History through poetry for children and young adults includes:

  • Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry, illustrated by Peter Fiore
  • My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States
  • America At War, both illustrated by Stephen Alcorn (all Simon & Schuster/McElderry Books)

Sky Magic (Dutton, 2009) received a starred review in The Horn Book, which called the anthology “mesmerizing…a hypnotic, otherworldly feel.” Sharing the Seasons (McElderry Books, 2010), illustrated by David Diaz, was starred in Kirkus and Ala Booklist.

At the heart of all his writing is the dedication to bringing children and books together. “You must teach children to love books,” he insists.”

“We spend too much time teaching children to read and not enough time teaching them to love to read.”

To encourage the recognition of poetry, he has established two major awards: the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, presented annually by Penn State University for a single volume of poetry, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association Promising Poet Award, presented every three years by IRA.

One of the nation’s most sought-after speakers on the subject of children’s literature, Mr. Hopkins lives in Cape Coral, Florida.


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