Non-fiction to tickle your fancy and make your heart flutter

minibeastsAs our days in the Northern Hemisphere lengthen and warm up, we’re beginning to spend more and more time outdoors, often inspired by the great books we’ve been sharing as a family, most recently Fluttering Minibeast Adventures and Tickly Minibeast Adventures written by Jess French (@Zoologist_Jess), with illustrations by Jonathan Woodward (@jonwoodward) and paper engineering by Keith Finch.

Both books are fabulous examples of non-fiction for young children, mixing carefully pitched information with questions to spark investigations and playful activities to extend your experience beyond the pages in your lap, all presented with careful book design, graceful illustrations and a bonus bug you can actually take out and play with hidden on the very last side of each book.

Tickly Minibeast Adventures (with possibly my favourite ever endpapers…) is especially enticingly written with appealing invitations at the end of each double page spread to turn just one more page and find out a little more. This helps create a sense of purpose and narrative, bringing information together in a way which sometimes doesn’t happen in non-fiction books, where facts can be presented in relative isolation from each other. Short paragraphs, often numbered, make it easy to follow the text and seek specific information. Although the gorgeous paper bugs may not last long in a school setting, the books themselves would be exciting and effective in the classroom.

Tickly Minibeast pg 10-11

Each book also includes a photo compendium, brilliantly complementing the lovely illustrations, a short glossary and a clearly presented index; these are both books which are as useful as they are beautiful.

Fluttering Minibeast pg 8-9

Apart from getting us out in the garden kneeling in the grass hunting for bugs, these two books also inspired us to make a model of a butterfly, using changes in air pressure to make the wings flap. This short video shows the end results:

(please ignore the sound of dinner being made in the background!)

Full instructions on how to make this pneumatic butterfly are here:

Whilst you could source all the materials yourself, for a mere £6 you can buy a kit from Ivydale Science & Technology Service here. (I have no links to this supplier, but they do sell lots of brilliant kits for use at home and in school).

Whilst making our butterfly we listened to:

  • Bees, Butterflies & Bugs by Sir Jerry

    Bees, Butterflies & Bugs – Sir Jerry from sol friedman on Vimeo.

  • Insect Song by Gerry Axelrod and Robert Macklin
  • Boogie Woogie Bugs by Don Cooper

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading Fluttering Minibeast Adventures in particular include:

  • Making a butterfly life cycle with some tissue paper, pipecleaners and a paper plate, with this tutorial from Buggy and Buddy
  • Making a flapping butterfly mobile. Use this video as inspiration, adapting the bird template to create a winged bug of your choice!
  • Making butterflies out of dried pasta or cupcake liners!

  • If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:

  • Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian by Margarita Engle and Julie Paschkis and making our own butterfly wings to wear
  • Dear Bunny… written by Katie Cotton and illustrated by Blanca Gómez packed with pretty tissue paper butterflies
  • Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss and the perfect place to go on a bug hunt – a chocolate cake like no other!
  • morebutterflies

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    Disclosure: I was sent free review copies of these books by the publisher, Red Shed, an imprint of Egmont Publishing.

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