Ewww! Yaay! A New Bug Book for “Micro Maniacs”

After a long, hard winter, spring is finally in the air. And, if you live in Japan, so are swarms of Asian giant hornets! These lovely insects have a wingspan as large as three inches, and pack a super painful sting. One entomologist in Tokyo described the feeling of being stung by one of these guys as having a hot nail driven into his leg. These hellacious hornets are nicknamed “Yak-killer” in Asia because of their deadly neurotoxin.

But forgive my manners — you want a peek at this insect? — Here you go:

I learned about this interesting bug, and many more, while listening to an interview on NPR with Amy Stewart about her fascinating new book WICKED BUGS. The subtitle is pretty great, too: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects.

Ever since I wrote my kids science book MICRO MANIA, I’ve been stunned by the dazzling variety and quantity of creepy crawly critters in the world. (During the NPR interview, Amy Stewart shares this stunner: If all the insects in the world today were divided evenly among the human population, each of us would get about 200 million of ’em.) I can’t wait to read WICKED BUGS to learn more about such bizarre and icky creatures such as bat bugs. During mating, male bat bugs have an cruel behavior –rather than looking for a specific body part to inject their sperm into the female’s body, they stab her abdomen repeatedly, in order to deposit their sperm into her bloodstream. Almost makes those pesky bedbugs seem charming…

paper airplane and crumbs

Ahhh!!! Invasion of the Bedbugs!

Are you a Micro Maniac? (definition: “someone inspired by my recent book MICRO MANIA to learn more about the many fascinating and gross creatures that share our planet). If so, you’ll be glad to hear that the “Dean of Children’s Science Writers” (New York Times) Seymour Simon just asked me to write a guest blog for his website. The topic? BEDBUGS! If you’re itchin’ to read it, here it is!

(And if THAT didn’t gross you out about bedbugs — then perhaps this short video by National Geographic will.)

And while you probably wish that all bedbugs were deadbugs — keep in mind that if ALL teeny-tiny creatures on Earth were to instantly vanish, our planet’s ecological health would probably go into a tail spin. Make no mistake: It’s a small world, after all.

Hope you all had a great Halloween. Curious to see my last-minute makeshift costume? I went as the would-be Batman villain BUG-FACE BROWN.

paper airplane and crumbs

All Creatures Great AND Really, Really Small

The prolific and talented Seymour Simon (“the dean of children’s science writers” – NY Times) invited me to contribute to his blog. My first entry is called “It’s a Small World, After All.” (Hoping I don’t get sued by either Disney or the B.L.C. — Bacteria Litigation Consortium) In honor of Earth Day, I shared some of the dazzling facts I discovered when writing my latest book, MICRO MANIA.

paper airplane and crumbs

The Germ-Spangled Banner (it’s the microbes turn to sing!)

Last month, I was asked to be the “visiting author” at a local elementary school, to talk about a new kids science book I wrote — MICRO MANIA: A Really Close-Up Look At Bacteria, Bedbugs & The Zillions Of Other Gross Little Creatures That Live In, On & All Around You!

As part of my talk to the 3rd grade classes, I showed a short music video, featuring a lyric I wrote to the tune of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The song is sung from the point of view of all the invisible critters that surround us, many of which help us survive…May it inspire you to wash your hands regularly — but not turn you into a germaphobe!

So, with apologies to Francis Scott Key, whose remains are probably being devoured by billions of bacteria at this very moment, herewith is my ode to “the little guys.”

paper airplane and crumbs

Another Great Review for MICRO MANIA (by someone NOT related to me!)

I hope you (and the trillions of bacteria in your gut) all had a terrific Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to share some fantastic news about a review of my new kids science book MICRO MANIA, published by Imagine Publishing Inc. The following appeared last week on the “NSTA Recommends” Web site (those initials standing for National Science Teachers Association, not Never Skedaddle To Anchorage, as you might have guessed.)

Anyway, here’s the review…

Micro Mania

by Jordan D. Brown

Price at time of review: $19.95
80 pp.
Imagine Publishing, Inc.
Morganville, NJ
2009
ISBN: 9780982306420

Grade Level: 1-8

Reviewed by Daniel Kujawinski
adjunct professor

In his opening acknowledgements, author Jordan D. Brown thanks his editor “for always pushing me to make it ‘grosser.’“ He more than followed her advice. From explaining the nature of bacteria to the flatulence of whales, this extremely readable book will be appreciated by the typical middle school student as well as more mature readers.

Scientific vocabulary is used appropriately and in context. The roles of microbes in real-world environments such as kitchens, bathrooms, playgrounds, and pets are discussed, and practical applications are given. The photography is very good. Hands-on activities for extended, open-ended explorations are suggested with clear directions and safety considerations. I recommend this book for outside reading or as a reference text in a middle school library.

Depending on the student-teacher relationship, this book could also be used in a literacy program for reluctant readers. I would bet that after reading Micro Mania, colorful conversations over dinner, on trips, and at inopportune times would be generated with tidbits like “if a cockroach loses it head, it can survive for a week. Eventually it dies of thirst.”

Review posted on 11/24/2009

If you enjoyed the book, too, please feel free to post your review on Amazon’s web page.

In a couple weeks, I’m doing my first “Author Visit” for this book, at my children’s elementary school. I suspect I’ll be shaking a lot of hands… (to self) “Must not be a germaphobe… must not be a germaphobe…”

Have a great December!

paper airplane and crumbs

MICRO MANIA’s 1st Review (Buffalo News)

A few weeks ago, my mother sent a fascinating article from my hometown newspaper, THE BUFFALO NEWS, to my 8-year-old son, Finian. It was about THIS curious creature….

star_nosed_mole.jpg

A star-nosed mole (as I’m sure you knew, right?) Anyway, the article was written by Gerry Rising, whom I’ve known since I was a little boy growing up in Buffalo. Gerry was a colleague of my father’s at the University of Buffalo. One of Gerry’s many pursuits is writing a weekly nature column for the Buffalo News. I contacted Gerry to tell him how much Finian and I enjoyed his star-nosed mole piece — and happened to mention that I had a new kids science book coming out, MICRO MANIA. Gerry not only expressed interest in the book – but reviewed it in his column on Sunday, November 8.

Review of Micro Mania / Buffalo News / Nov 8 2009

MicroBooks.jpg

I was very pleased to read that Gerry liked it, and learned from it. I appreciated that he understood my goal was not only to tantalize with gross details and irreverent humor, but to educate children of all ages about “the little guys” with which we share the planet.

Any science enthusiasts who’d like to read more of Gerry nature columns (he’s written hundreds), should check out this archive.

“Nature Watch” Column Archive

paper airplane and crumbs

You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry, You’ll Wash Your Hands…

Don’t you just love that new book smell? I do. Especially when the new book is one written by me!

It’s a new science book for children 6 and up, and is filled with fascinating facts, irreverent humor, and loads of disgusting photographs of creepy, crawly critters, many of which are invisible to the eye. When I was writing the book, I was urged by my editor to “make it grosser.” And so I did. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting some of the tidbits from this book here, and invite any of you to post fascinating facts about the “little guys.” My goal was to both inspire children to appreciate the many tiny creatures that inhabit the world, and to remind folks that many of the little animals play a critical role to life on Earth. Yes, yes, when I was writing the book, I became somewhat of an obsessive hand-washer. But now that phase has passed, much to my relief.

Neat perk of this book for me — my son Finian, age 8, got to take the “Author Photo” on the book jacket:

You can read more about this book at my publisher’s web site: Micro Mania

I also noticed that it’s now on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com etc… and Halloween is just around the corner…perhaps just the right gift for any kids who enjoy reading enGROSSing books.

paper airplane and crumbs