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Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects

by Matthew Clark Smith

Book list When the president of France arrives in the small village of Serignan, no one expects he is there to announce that the bug-crazy old man who lives there has been nominated for a Nobel Prize. Nineteenth-century entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre, the insects' poet, spent his life enraptured by the natural world, studying it and sharing his knowledge whenever he could. His journey from enthusiast to lauded scientist, however, was rife with setbacks. Smith recounts Fabre's early years spent observing small wonders, before discussing his time as a teacher, a position he lost due to his controversial views. Eventually, he earned his reputation through prolific, lyrical, and accessible scientific writing. Ferri's pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are marked by vitality and light, and readers will love seeing the different bugs crawling about the pages. Further information on Fabre's life is appended in a historical note and time line. A comprehensive and tender account of one of science's lesser-known figures that will have kids itching to grab their bug jars and get outside.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly First-time author Smith offers a rewarding overview of naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre, opening his recounting in southern France, where the elderly scientist was a figure of mystery, known for collecting and speaking to animals: "Whether he was a sorcerer or a madman no one could agree." Village curiosity peaks when the president of France arrives to speak with Fabre. Smith then backtracks to explore the often melancholy life of his subject, who found solace and splendor studying and writing about insects. Ferri's vibrant watercolor-and-pencil illustrations revel in the details and diversity of the insects that so fascinated Fabre, while end notes offer extensive historical background to bolster this rousing tribute to the rewards of following one's passions. Ages 6-9. (May) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 2-5-This enchanting picture book biography examines the life and work of 19th-century French entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre. Fairy tale-like in tone, the first few pages will easily draw in children, as Smith describes the actions of an old hermit who was considered a local eccentric by those in his village for his habit of speaking to animals and collecting insects ("Whether he was a sorcerer, or simply a madman, no one could agree."). The villagers were shocked, however, when Fabre received a visit from the president of France. Readers are then taken back in time to learn about Fabre's childhood, education, and ever-present interest in the natural world, as well as his unconventional teaching and writings on insect behavior. Indeed, he often shocked fellow scientists with his bizarre findings. Smith's engaging text conveys Fabre's zeal for his subject, while Ferri's gorgeously detailed watercolor and pencil illustrations of plant life and insects beg readers to stop and look both at the pages as well as at the natural world around them. Historical and author's notes and a useful time line add further context. VERDICT A must-have.-Jennifer Wolf, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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