Review of You're Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration

You’re Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration
by Loree Griffin Burns; photos by Ellen Harasimowicz
Primary    Charlesbridge    40 pp.    g
4/20    978-1-58089-686-3    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-63289-834-0    $9.99

With her latest book, Burns (Tracking Trash, rev. 3/07; The Hive Detectives, rev. 5/10) has earned the right to add Master Party Planner to her resume. Here she hosts a “moth ball,” a STEM-friendly activity in which a group of youngsters observes moths in action on a summer night. They whip up a yummy snack for the insects (nectar made from rotten bananas and brown sugar); smear the food on tree trunks and fence posts to attract the moths; hang up a white backdrop (in this case, a sheet); illuminate it; wait for dark; and observe a number and variety of moths settling on the backdrop or on nectar-laden trees. Sharp photographs depict the group of children as they plan and execute their evening activity, as well as the variety of moths encountered, showcasing these insects both at true size and magnified. DIY directions for creating such gatherings are repeated in an appendix, and all the equipment necessary is detailed and photographed within the text. Burns’s use of direct address and her light conversational tone invite readers to join the scientific festivities throughout the book; the text is unfailingly encouraging and enthusiastic (“Hey, is it dark outside yet? Great. Let’s go mothing!”). Additional appendices include a diagram of the moth life cycle, a labeled photograph showing the parts of a moth, a glossary, resources (including a website) with additional photographs, and notes from both author and photographer.

From the July/August 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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