June 16 – Dump the Pump Day

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About the Holiday

There’s no better time than early summer to consider “dumping the pump” and traveling by foot, bicycle, scooter, skates, skateboard…there are so many options! Leaving the car at home saves on gas costs, is better for the environment, and leads to a great exercise workout. Today, grab your walking or tennis shoes and with a friend or alone, take an example from the subject of today’s book and enjoy the pleasure of traversing the outside world!

Good Trick, Walking Stick!

Written by Sheri Mabry Bestor | Illustrated by Jonny Lambert

 

The walking stick is one insect that knows a thing or two about tricks. Even before it’s born wile plays a part in its survival. A mother walking stick drops her eggs where they will be buried by autumn leaves—and found by ants that think they are delicious seeds to eat. Why would a mother purposefully do this?! She knows that the ants will take the eggs to their colony, where they will eat only the tops leaving the baby walking sticks undisturbed. The ants will then drag the remains of the “seeds” to their garbage dump area, where they will spend a warm winter safe from predators until spring.

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In the spring a baby hatches. It look like a tiny twig—a twig that can walk! The baby searches for food and munch, munch, munches the leaves it finds. As it becomes bigger it molts, shedding its old skin and growing a new one. The walking stick looks just like the branches that it lives on. It is perfectly camouflaged! “Good trick, walking stick!”

But a bird with keen eyesight swoops down and in an instant grabs the walking stick in its beak. Quickly, the walking stick squirts out a bad-smelling juice. The bird spits it out, but has gained a snack while the walking stick has lost a leg! It’s okay, though; the walking stick will just grow a new one! “Good trick, walking stick!”

The walking stick finds a tree with others of her kind hidden in its branches. The leaves make delicious meals. During the day the walking stick can change color to blend in with the sunlit bark of the tree and stay cooler. At night the walking stick becomes darker to hide in the shadows and stay warm. “Good trick, walking stick!”

When a squirrel brushes past, looking for a meal, the walking stick “pulls in her legs and drops to the forest floor, just like a stick falling off a larger branch. The stick insect is safe.” All day the insect lies on the ground, not moving, pretending to be just another cutting. At nightfall the walking stick climbs back into the tree. The squirrels and birds are resting now, so the stick insects “Munch munch. Crunch. Munch.”

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With the onset of fall stick insects begin looking for mates. The females “spritz their perfume into the cooling air.” Males find them. Even if a walking stick does not have a mate, she can still produce eggs which will all develop into females. The eggs settle into the fallen leaves, ready to begin their unique life. “Good trick, walking stick!”

Stick insects are some of the most unusual creatures in the world. Measuring from an inch or two to 21 inches (53 centimeters), they can be found in forests, parks, even your own backyard! Sheri Mabry Bestor’s story of a year in a walking stick’s life is filled with action, suspense, and the clever ploys stick insects use to survive. Bestor’s enthusiastic, conversational tone and evocative language will engage kids over a wide range of ages. Each page also contains fascinating scientific sidebars that expand on the events in the story.

Jonny Lambert’s collage-style illustrations are a perfect match for the text. The mottled hues and textures of nature are beautifully represented in the vibrantly colored two-page spreads. The scientific details of the stick insect’s life are clearly and organically depicted, making it easy for kids to understand and enjoy the concepts: on one page ants carry away eggs with missing tops while on the next baby walking sticks emerge from the same images. Illustrations of the stick insect’s camouflage are particularly effective, and the cyclical quality of the story and the insect’s life are well portrayed.

For teachers and for kids who love the natural world and are curious about its unique creatures, Good Trick, Walking Stick is a wonderful addition to their school or personal library.

Ages 5 – 9

Sleeping Bear Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1585369430

Dump the Pump Day Activity

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Take a Stroll Puzzle

 

You can see so many amazing things when you take a walk! But can you spot the 15 differences between the two pictures in this printable Take a Stroll puzzle?

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