I’d like to thank Penguin Young Readers for sharing a digital copy of Bug Catchers with me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.
Bug Catchers (Dirt and Bugsy)
Written by Megan Litwin | Illustrated by Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn
Dirt and Bugsy are friends who have a particular favorite hobby in common—they love bugs! And more than that, they love to catch bugs. Every day they get together to search out all kinds of bugs. Dirt brings the shovel, and Bugsy brings jars. To find bugs, “they spy. They dig. They lift. They sift.” Soon there are bugs everywhere—even climbing “up arms. Down legs. All around the ground.”
This afternoon as Dirt and Bugsy are searching for bugs, it starts to rain. The “bug boys” don’t mind, in fact the rain gives them a great idea. They decide to build a shelter for them and the bugs to play in. Bugsy and Dirt hurry to collect building materials. It doesn’t take long for them to assemble their sticks and jars, rocks, boxes, and bandanas into a cozy bug barn. There’s just one thing they don’t have: bugs!
Dirt and Bugsy know just what to do. “They spy. They dig. They lift. They sift.” Soon they’ve caught all sorts of bugs—some that fly, some that creep, some that wriggle. Each bug has a room and some food and while it rains, Bugsy and Dirt and the bugs hang out and play games. When the rain ends, the bugs all go back to their homes and Dirt and Bugsy head home too. They know they’ll catch up again tomorrow.
Front matter includes a note to parents and educators explaining the numerical and alphabetical levels of each Penguin Young Readers book and then specifies which easy-to-read level (2) and F&P Text Level (I) Bug Catchers feature as well as the skills a Progressing Reader should have to enjoy the book. An activity to help children make personal connections and think in a problem solving way about the story are also included. Back matter includes an easy step-by-step list for catching and releasing bugs.
Megan Litwin, a former classroom teacher, knows how to capture burgeoning readers’ attention and imaginations with her exuberant story of two boys who love being outside, playing and working together, and catching bugs. Her sentences—some only two words long that emphasize the noun/subject and verb construction and others that are a more complex as she slowly introduces pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, and other parts of speech—are varied and action-packed, keeping kids reading on to find out what happens. Repeated words and phrases, sprinkled with rhyming pairs, not only serve to build the story but also excitement and confidence in young readers. In her well-crafted story, Litwin also incorporates nature science and the important mathematical concept of sorting.
Providing visual backup to all of these ideas, Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn invites kids to join Dirt and Bugsy on their bug hunt in her vibrant illustrations that clearly show the two “bug boys” searching and catching bugs, gathering supplies, building the bug barn, and having a great time together. Children are introduced to a wide variety of bugs that are beautifully and realistically drawn and that will no doubt prompt them to learn more about each type. To help kids understand the idea of sorting, Panczyszyn groups bugs that crawl, fly, slide, and hide in squares of their own environmentally correct backgrounds. Dirt and Bugsy have infectious smiles and unflagging enthusiasm for their favorite hobby, just two of the traits that will draw readers to them again and again as they develop their reading proficiency.
A wonderfully conceived beginning to a welcome young readers series, Bug Catchers (Dirt & Bugsy) offers children a robust reading experience that can easily be extended with the provided activities as well as kids’ own ideas. The book maintains its fresh feeling of excitement through multiple readings and is a must for any developing reader at home as well as for classroom, school, and public library collections.
Ages 6 – 7 (Approximately. Children below and above this age range will enjoy practicing their skills with this book.)
Penguin Young Readers, 2023 | ISBN 978-0593519929 (Hardcover) | ISBN 978-0593519912 (Paperback)
About the Author
Megan Litwin is the author of the picture book Twinkle, Twinkle, Winter Night, which released in 2022. She is also the author of the forthcoming early reader series, Dirt & Bugsy, with the first two books coming in 2023. Megan holds a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons University and is a former classroom teacher whose lifelong work is to grow lifelong readers. Megan lives in Massachusetts with her family, where she enjoys visiting schools across the state and connecting with young readers and writers. She invites you to visit her at meganlitwinbooks.com.
About the Illustrator
Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn is a lettering artist and illustrator located in the Chicago area where she works out of her home studio with her studio pup, Teddy Bear. She’s been working professionally since 2010 and has worked with clients such as Dear Evan Hansen, Adobe, Facebook, and many others. She is also one of the authors of Creative Lettering & Beyond from Walter Foster Publishing. In her free time you can find her at the local ice rink skating, drinking chai lattes in the local coffee shop, or snuggling her dog. Shauna Lynn has been drawing since she could hold a pencil and created her first mural on her parent’s condo wall at the age of 3. After a short detour where she went to the University of North Florida to study Opera, she switched over to graphic design, and finally settled into illustration. You can find her at shaunalynn.com.
Bug Catchers Activity
Bring Your Favorite Bugs Inside!
With this easy craft, kids can have fun with bugs inside while the real bugs stay outside! Smooth stones are a natural canvas for pictures of your favorite bugs! With a little bit of paint, jewelry pins, or magnets, and some imagination, you can make refrigerator magnets, jewelry, paper weights, and more!
- Smooth stones in various sizes
- Paint or markers
- Small magnets, available at craft stores
- Jewelry pins, available at craft stores
- Paint brush
- Strong glue
To make magnets
- Design and paint an image on a light-weight stone
- Attach a magnet to the back with strong glue
To make jewelry
- Paint your bug on a smaller, flatter stone
- Attach a jewelry pin to the back with strong glue
To make a paperweight
- Paint a bug or many bugs on a larger, heavier stone
You can find Bug Catchers (Dirt and Bugsy) at these booksellers
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million
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