For STEM Friday, we have a picture book biography, Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith and illustrated by Giuliano Ferri, which delves deeply into the life of one of the first naturalists who explored the insect world with a scientific eye, and who at the same time wrote with the goal of sharing his insights not only with colleagues, but also with essays written for regular people (see a literary review at our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil).
Fabre’s method of studying live insects, particularly in their natural habitats, allowed him to make many new discoveries. His insights included finding out that female great peacock moths produce a scent (pheromone) to attract male moths.Jean Henri Fabre also studied the behavior of processionary caterpillars, dung beetles , cicadas, praying mantids, bees and wasps, and many other creatures.
Although this book is a biography of a scientist, budding entomologists are likely to find the details of the “Small Wonders” he studied intriguing as well.
Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Two Lions (May 12, 2015)
To accompany Small Wonders, you might want to try this collection of Fabre’s actual works retold by Mrs. Rodolph Stawell from a translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos. It is for older children or adults, but parts could be read to younger children.
Fabre’s Book of Insects by Jean Henri Fabre
Frankly, the text is somewhat convoluted and flowery in an old-fashioned way, but due to the fact that his close examination of the behavior of insects was so innovative, it has stood the test of time. He also makes many references to mythology and folklore.
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications (February 6, 1998)
Finally, if you want to see the insects that Fabre writes about, you might want to try the movie Microcosmos with Kristin Scott Thomas (Actor), Jacques Perrin (Actor, Producer), Claude Nuridsany (Director, Writer), Marie Pérennou (Director, Writer). Although the cover below of the mantis with sunglasses might give you the impression it is a cartoon, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is serious nature cinematography at its finest!
Another reason it is appropriate is because it is set in France, where Fabre lived, and features some of the insects he studied, like the processionary caterpillar.
Check out the French version of the movie trailer (it is also available in English):
Sorry, in a bit of a rush today. Please leave any questions you might have in the comments.
Disclosure: Small Wonders was provided by the publisher for review. The other book and movie are my personal copies. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.
Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.