March 21 – World Poetry Day

Nasty Bugs by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Will Terry Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

World Poetry Day, an initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, recognizes the important role poetry plays in people’s lives across the world and over time. The day promotes small publishers of poetry as well as oral poetry traditions and works to strengthen the connection between poetry and other forms of expression. Another objective is to “support linguistic diversity thorough poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.”

Celebrations on this day include poetry readings, school lessons focused on poetry and poets, poetry writing sessions, and poetry readings by professional and amateur poets in schools and other venues.

Nasty Bugs

Poems Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins | Illustrated by Will Terry


Who in the world can resist bugs? They’re in every country, every city, every town, even every house! And they have so much going for them—lots of legs, pincher mouths, transparent wings, amazing survival skills, and so much general creepy-crawliness! Bugs may be a little (or a lot) icky, but you can’t deny that they’re fascinating.

Nasty Bugs brings together 16 poets to turn the traits of all kinds of insects, from stink bugs to chiggers to water bugs and more, into creative odes that tickle the funny bone as well as teach. Readers learn from Cynthia S. Cotton’s “Stink Bug” that “Some spread their wings in flight, / Some look scary, / some taste bad, / some use camouflage / to blend in just right.”

Rebecca Kai Dotlich exposes the boll weevil: “I am an evil weevil, / a cotton-craving beetle / whose reputation’s rotton / ‘cause I gobble crops of cotton, / yes I do.” And the Colorado Potato Beetle? Among other quirks, X. J. Kennedy reveals its name is a bit of a misnomer: “His other name’s Potato Bug. / This munching desperado / infests our gardens coast to coast. / Not just in Colorado.”

April Halprin Wayland gives voice to the fire ants’ tribal cry “All for one and one for all!” as they jump into action when “Flood waters rise! / Quick, form a ball—/ our larvae, pupae, eggs, and Mother Queen inside! / We roll this writhing globe, / take turns on top / so all breathe air, so all survive.”

“Spoiled Rotton” by J. Patrick Lewis may make grammarians squirm with this pointed description: “I’m a comma / in a drama / of disgusting devastation.” while readers will be itchin’ to know more in Rebecca Andrew Loescher’s “Ode to Chigger” with lines such as “You hatch with six small legs for running, / then grow two more—for leaps most stunning,” Poems about flies (Ann Whitford Paul), wasps (Michele Krueger), fleas (Marilyn Singer), lice (Amy Ludwig VanDerwater), ticks (Kami Kinard), termites (Alice Schertle), cockroaches (Fran Haraway), and bedbugs (Kristine O’Connell George) also contribute to the buzzzzz of this anthology.

But if bugs, well…bug you, you may find these lines in Lee Bennett Hopkins’ “Ode to a Dead Mosquito” most satisfying: “You of little brain / didn’t you know / I felt your sting / the instant you / began to drain? / So— / I whacked you. / SMACK! / You dropped.”

Will Terry lends his distinctive talent to making this book as colorful, bold, and eye-popping as nature itself. Each insect, depicted in its favorite milieu, nearly flies, creeps, or chomps it’s way off the page. Brilliant greens, reds, yellow, oranges, and blues give life to these most prolific pests, and their prominent features – whether pinchers, stingers, gnawing mandibles, or even stinky odor – are inspiringly drawn.

More facts about each bug are given in the back of the book, and are a must read. Whether insects make you squirm with discomfort or squeal with delight, Nasty Bugs is fun.

Ages 5 – 9

Paperback: Puffin, Penguin Group, 2016 | ISBN 978-0147519146

Hardcover: Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Group, 2012 | ISBN 978-0803737167

World Poetry Day Activity

CPB - Nasty Bugs magnet II (2)

Rockin’ Bug Magnet or Paperweight


On World Poetry Day it’s fun to write a poem of your own. Whether your creation is long or short, you can proudly display it using one of these Rockin’ Bug Magnets.


Rocks, small and flat work best for magnets. Larger rocks are great for paperweights. You can find rocks in your yard, at the beach or park, or buy them from craft stores or nurseries.

  • Paint in your favorite colors
  • Paint brush
  • Small to medium round magnets, available at craft and hardware stores
  • Googly eyes
  • Strong glue

CPB - Nasty Bugs magnet (2)


  1. Wash rocks and let them dry
  2. Create your own creepy, crawly bug on the front of the rock
  3. Paint your bug
  4. Let the paint dry
  5. If you want to give your insect buggy eyes, glue googly eyes to the rock.
  6. Glue a magnet to the back of the rock
  7. Hang it on the refrigerator or any metal surface


If you love books, you must have caught the reading bug! Check out another great book and craft on March 2—Read Across America Day and make an “I’ve Got the Reading Bug” Bookplate for your favorite books!

CPB - Reading Bug Book Plate (2)


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