First up we have a new middle grade novel, In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus (see giveaway details below). The story revolves around the adventures of a young boy who learns that he can talk to insects. He embarks on a quest to find both a specimen of the giant beetle, Goliathus hercules, and also to locate his missing father. Author Jennifer Angus takes us back to 1890, creating the period feel of late-Victorian natural history when collecting insects and other natural objects was a favored pastime. For a full review of this unique, imaginative debut novel and information about the blog tour for the book, see our sister blog, Wrapped In Foil.
Jennifer Angus is an artist who uses real, although dead, insects in her art exhibits. She creates intriguing designs and patterns with the posed insect bodies. One of the questions that comes up both in the book and in the author's unique art is the ethics of collecting and preserving insects from nature. The author discusses the dilemma from an artist's point of view at her website. Her main points are that there are bigger threats to insects due to habitat loss than collecting, as well as that her art exhibits draw attention to the plight of insects.
From a completely different point of view of insect collections, Calbug is looking for citizen scientists to help them digitize the specimen labels from several insect collections housed in museums. Typically each specimen is labeled with a handwritten tag, and the curators are asking for citizen helpers to read the tags that have been photographed and type the information into a database. Scientists will use the databases to study things like trends in insect populations with changes in habitat over time. Reference collections like these are also used extensively in the area of taxonomy, so that scientists can verify the insects they are seeing today are the ones with the names used in the past. As a side note, many of these collections were started during the late 1800s, the same time period as the book.
If you or someone you know might be interested in the novel, children's book publisher Albert Whitman & Company has graciously offered a signed copy of In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus for a giveaway contest. For a chance to win the book, please leave a comment with a valid e-mail address on this blog post between today (Saturday June 1, 2013) and Saturday June 15, 2013. A winner will be selected at random from the comments on this post and the book will be sent directly from the publisher. Note: Don't worry if your comment doesn't appear immediately. I will be away from my desk a lot during the next two weeks, so it may take longer than usual for comments to be approved. Edit: The contest is now closed.
Suggested Age Range: 8 and up
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (March 1, 2013)
Ebooks are available from Open Road Media.
Physical copies are available at Albert Whitman & Company.
Disclaimer: The review copy of the book was also provided by the publisher.