Dorling Kindersley

Dorling Kindersley have their own home page and if you want to know more about these books you can visit them at http://www.dk.com/

Dorling Kindersley are specialists in producing informative books aimed at the young and the young at heart, though they publish across the whole range of human interest I will here only be concerned with those few publications of theirs which deal with insects.



 

 

The Titles


Nature Facts (Pocket Book), by Scarlet O'Hara
Butterflies and Moths (Pocket Book), by Barbara Taylor.
Insects (Pocket Book)
Butterflies and Moths (Explorer), by John Feltwell
Insects (Explorer), by Steve Parker
Insect (Eyewitness Guide), by Laurence Mound
Amazing Bugs (Inside Guide), by Miranda Macquitty
The Really Wicked Droning Wasp, by Theresa Greenaway
The Really Hairy Scary Spider, by Theresa Greenaway
Ultimate Sticker Books (Bugs and Creepy Crawlies)

The Reviews

Insects (Pocket Book)

, by Laurance Mound and Steve Brooks

ISBN = 0 7513 5182 2
Price = £4.99
Published = 1995
Review written = 16/November/1997
160 pages 10x12 cms or 4x5 inches

This "Pocket Full of Knowledge", as it is called by DK is really quite good. Definitely much better than the 'Explorer' volume of the same title. It contains a lot of fascinating and useful information in a package format that is highly attractive. I do therefore recommend it, however I must also mention that though I think it a good idea to supply information about an insects actual size next to an image of it, the values supplied in this book are so varied and inaccurate as to be almost useless, in fact some insects like the Peacock butterfly appear to have several different size forms. As well as this they have described the orders Megaloptera and Neuroptera as having incomplete metamorphosis, when in fact they have complete metamorphosis. This is such a basic error that it has to be a type setting mistake, however it is still unacceptable.

Contains sections on:- How to use this book, What is an insect, The first insects, Types of insects, Metamorphosis, How insects move, Insect senses, How insects feed, Courtship, birth, and growth, Insect societies, Hunting and hiding, Where insects live. Temperate Woodland, Grasslands and Heathlands, Lakes and Rivers, Tropical Forest, Desert Caves and Soil, Towns and Gardens, Insect classification, Studying insects, Projects at home, Endangered habitats, Insect Records.
All in all now that you know about the errors this book is very good value for money and would make an excellent present of any child or simply as a travelling companion on long car journeys.
Highly Recommended

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Insect (Eyewitness Guide)

by Laurence Mound

ISBN = 0 86318 4081
Price = £9.99
Published = 1990 and again 1996
Review written = 11/November/1997
64 pages A4

Before I start delineating its faults let me say that this is by far the best introduction to insects, aimed at children, that I have seen so far. It is bright and colourful, well balanced in its presentation and excellently illustrated. On top of this most of the information is factually accurate. However it is not perfect and some of the foolish errors in it make me wonder why people find it so hard to be accurate with their information, or what the original sources were.

Firstly there are a number of errors and inaccurate conjectures presented as facts in the first insects and flight section. These include the statement that large insects with unfolding wings would have found them a hindrance and that small insects have great difficulty flying, they do experience more drag and require more energy to fly but this is relative and the fact many of them do fly belies the great difficulty statement. That statement that the oldest known fossil Dragonfly with a wingspan of 20cm (8 inches) was far larger than anything flying today is also misleading as some S.American species today have at least an 18 cm wingspan. The statement that locust leg muscle is a thousand times stronger than an equivalent amount of human muscle is a piece of highly inaccurate rubbish. The statement that the front of the Lantern bugs head looks like an alligator is a misleading anthropomorphism, it only looks like that to us, it cannot be mimicking an alligator because of the size and habitat differences. Finally I was mystified as to why an otherwise highly competent book should ignore one of the sections of the insect leg, (i.e. the trochanter) it would have taken less space and been far more educational to have included it than to say the leg it has 4 main parts and then leave the 'trochanter' out.

Do not let these few errors that I have listed here put you off, there is far more to this book and generally speaking it is all very good and at £9.99 it is good value for money.

Contains sections on; The parts of an insect, What is an insect, The first insects, Wings and flight, Through an insects eyes, Touch, smell and hearing, Legwork, Mouthparts and feeding, Battling beetles, Complete metamorphosis, Incomplete metamorphosis, Beetles, Flies, Butterflies and moths, Wasps Bees and Ants, Other insects, Living with plants, Hide and seek, How to avoid being eaten, A watery life, Building a nest, Insect architects, Social ants, Honeybees and hives, Helpful and harmful, Looking at insects, Index.
Highly Recommended

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The Really Hairy Scary Spider

and other creatures with lots of legs, by Theresa Greenaway

ISBN = 0 7513 5347 7
Price = £5.99
Published = 1996
Review written = 10/November/1997
18 pages A4

This is a very colourfully produced book. Exactly the sort of well presented work that will play an important part in a child's growing awareness of the wonders in the world around it. Most of the facts are correct. The exceptions being that tarantulas moult only one a year; actually they moult at different times depending on their age, young spiders moult several times in one year and in many species males do not see that many years in the wild. Far more interesting and unmentioned is the fact that tarantulas moult on their backs.
The overstatement of, and projection onto all 'funnel web spiders' of the aggression of the 'Sydney Funnel Web' is also a little misleading. However once you know about these the book is as I said colourful, entertaining and educational to a certain extent.

Contains the following sections; Spiders galore, Hairy hunters, Fast movers, Count those legs, Clever disguises, Ant attack, Tiny tanks, Beastly bugs, which is a right panoply of beastly encounters.

Recommended

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The Really Wicked Droning Wasp

and other things that bite and sting, by Theresa Greenaway

ISBN = 0 7513 5461 9
Price = £5.99
Published = 1996
Review written = 10/November/1997
18 pages A4

This is really a colour extravaganza, full of pictures with a small amount of accompanying text. As with anything to do with arthropods the animals are all fascinating and as usual with DK the imagery is fantastic. Mostly the text is factual, except for the statement that a hornets sting is more painful because of the size of the Hornet, the nature of the chemicals comprising the injected venom is more important than the amount injected and the size of the stinging organ itself is relatively irrelevant. Some smaller hymenoptera have just as painful a sting if not a more painful one. Of course the amount of pain perceived is subjective anyway depending on the persons experience and expectations. Apart from this the book is a lot of fun, though one gets the impression that some of DK's writers are unaware that there are other species of Hornets in the world besides the European one and that some of them are larger still. I particularly liked the spectacular photos of the Horse Flies.

Contains the following sections; A stinging tail, One to avoid, Buzz time, Get stuck in, Hairy horrors, Whippersnappers, The tail end, Cut and stab. If you want to know what they are all about you will have to buy the book.
Recommended

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Amazing Bugs (Inside Guide)

by Miranda Macquitty

ISBN = 0 7513 5434 1
Price = £8.99
Published = 1996
Review written = 10/November/1997
44 pages A4

This is another excellent book from DK, a copy should be on the shelves of every school in the world. Having said that let me introduce the book, it is basically an introduction to insects morphology including the inside bits, anatomy. But it is the first book I have ever seen that makes anatomy and morphology really interesting. It is also very clear and easy to understand. Many of the main images in the book are photographs of models painstakingly reconstructing the insides of an variety of insects without all the messy confusion that is all to evident in real life dissections. Bringing to life the wonderful complexity and organisation of these small wonders that share our world. It is also up to date and accurate in its text. For these reasons I would expect this book to be popular with adults seeking to learn a little more about how insects work and particularly with home schoolers. I suspect children will find it fascinating as well of course.

Contains sections on;Bug world, Outside an insect, Inside an insect, Blood sucker, Sponger, Breathing holes, Bug-eyed, Feeling the way, Sound bugs, Leg power, High jump, Taking flight, unwelcome guests, Nectar collector, Getting together, New life, Life changes, Glossary and Index
All in all this is a very impressive book.
Highly Recommended

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Ultimate Sticker Books (Bugs and Creepy Crawlies)


ISBN = Bugs 0 7513 5213 6 and Creepy Crawley 07513 5621 2
Price = £3.99
Published = 1997
Review written = 11/November/1997

These books are I think really designed for the younger bug lovers who are just beginning to discover the beginnings of their love for the spineless wonders of this world. However I perceive that these books will find a place in many of the hearts of the older bug-lovers as well.
The centre of each book contains 6 (Bugs) or 4 (Creepy Crawly) pages of peal-off reusable bug images. The rest of these books is a collection of silhouettes equivalent to to the peal off images, a certain amount of text is supplied with the images and their destinations. The images are bright and glossy, and therefore rather appealing. The real fun begins when you take them out of the book completely, I have used them on my fridge, the tower case of my PC and various panes of glass around the lab to quite good effect. I do suggest you make sure any surface you want to stick them to is free of dust as they do not work well when gummed up with dust. I must admit also that some of them have a tendency to peel at the corners when stuck on the window, though this is not what they were designed for so I can not complain

At £3.99 each they are quit good value and can be quite a lot of fun as well as mildly educational
Recommended

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Insects (Explorer)

, by Steve Parker

ISBN = 0 7513 6095 3
Price = £4.99
Published = 1992 and 1997
Review written = 9/November/1997
61 pages 14x19 cms or 5.5x7.5 inches

This is not one of DK's better efforts as it contains both factual errors and misleadingly expressed information. On page 28 an Ichneumon wasp is labelled as a Wood wasp. Wood wasp is actually the common name for the larval host of the Ichneumon. On page 22 it states that the longhorned moth has thin muscles in its antennae. Insects proper, (now that the Collembola are no longer classified as insects) do not have any muscles in inside their antennae. On pages 35-36 a predatory solitary wasp is used as an example of a parasite despite there being a good description of a parasite on the page. As well as these blatant inaccuracies on at least two occasions statements are made relating to individual species which could easily be read as applying to insects as a whole, when though the facts are correct for the species concerned they are not for insects as a whole. If this this was not enough they have included the popularly held myth that an ant the size of a human being would be able to run 5Xs as fast as an olympic sprinter, and that a man sized flea would be able to leap over a 40 storey building. The truth is that any insects the size of a man would be physically unable to move at all because their skeleton would be unable to support their weight, further to this they would die of asphyxiation because their respiratory system is inadequate for large sizes. Insect muscle is different in subtle way from human muscle but it is not appreciable stronger.

All in all these examples are not all that I did not like about this book, which has a general aura of incompetent about it. I would recommend buying the 'Pocket Book' on insects instead as it is much more accurate and far better value for money.

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Butterflies and Moths (Explorer)

by John Feltwell

ISBN =0 7513 6097 X
Price = £4.99
Published = 1993
Review written = 11/November/1997
61 pages 14x19 cms or 5.5x7.5 inches

Written by John Feltwell a well known lepidopterist this is a competent introduction to butterflies and moths. It covers all the aspects of lepidopteran ecology that one would expect and supplies a reasonable amount of accurate information. Colourfully illustrated throughout by numerous photographs and cartoons this book will be a delight as a first book on butterflies and moths to many children.
This book is not a follow-on from the DK 'Pocket Book' of the same name. Both books contain information of a similar form and extent, and as they are the same price I would suggest buying one or the other based on their different sizes, particularly as there is considerable overlap of imagery. There are small differences between the two and if I add to express a preference I would have to say that I think the 'Pocket Book' is the better despite its often smaller print.

Contains sections on; Butterflies and Moths, Which is which, Wondrous wings, Make a butterfly, Fluttering and gliding, Eyes and seeing, Smelling and sipping, Looking at legs, Getting together, All about eggs, Caterpillar birth, Clever caterpillars, Blending in, Feeding machines, Changing Skin, The perfect insect, Silk cocoons, Leave me alone, Hide and seek, Escaping the weather, In the garden, In the woodlands, In the mountains, In the rainforest, In the Desert, In the arctic, Index.
Recommended

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Nature Facts (Pocket Book)

, by Scarlet O'Hara

ISBN = 0 7513 5496 1
Price = £4.99
Published = 1997
Review written = 29/September/1997
160 pages 10x12 cms or 4x5 inches

This is undoubtedly the smallest introduction to biology I have ever read. It is not strictly speaking a book about insects, as it is equally concerned with all life on this planet, both plant and animal. However as DK have been kind enough to send me a copy for review I am happy to recommend it.
Though definitely aimed at children it is not overtly childish and contains a wealth of accurate facts colourfully packaged and illustrated. Though I can not claim to have been able to verify all the facts that are presented in this book those that I do know of are both accurate and up to date. This book should therefore be a valuable addition to any young person's library.

Contains sections on; The Beginning of Life, Microorganisms and Plants, Animals, Animal Processes, Ecology, Classifying Living Things, Glossary and Index.
All in all a well rounded little introduction to, or reminder of the wonderfulness of life on this planet.
Highly Recommended

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Butterflies and Moths (Pocket Book)

by Barbara Taylor.

ISBN = 0 7513 5367 1
Price = £4.99
Published = 1996
Review written = 14/September/1997
160 pages 10x12 cms or 4x5 inches

Like all the DK publications I have reviewed this is not an identification guide, it is therefore just as useful in the USA as it is in the UK or Australia or anywhere else.

This is a very good value for money little book. The small compact size belies the amount of information that it contains. Illustrated with 100s of colour photos of butterflies moths and their larval forms, this is an excellent first journey into the world of lepidoptera. It is particularly pleasant to be able to say that I could find no factual errors in this book. The text, though often in a small font was generally interesting and pleasantly focused. I was also pleased to see 'Habitat Destruction' and 'Over Collecting' apportioned realistic levels of responsibility for species extinction.

One could argue that the statement that the Large Blue, which became extinct in the UK has been reintroduced was incorrect on the basis of it being a different subspecies. This is however a minor point and in know way impinges on the value of this book.

Contains sections on; Introduction, Types of moths, Types of butterflies, Wings and flight, Senses, Feeding and drinking, Life-cycle, Survival, Friends and foes, Environmental change, Habitats, Temperate Woodlands, Tropical Rainforests, Wetlands, Grasslands and Scrub, Dry Regions and Caves, Arctic and Mountains, Reference section, Glossary, Common and Scientific names, Index.
All in all I found this to be a very pleasant little book whose compact size and entertaining information make it a great gift or buy for any interested child.
Highly Recommended

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