Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Two Little Bugs by Mark and Rowan Sommerset

 Two Little Bugs tells the story of friends Little Bug Red and Little Bug Blue.

Little Bug Red lives on top of the leaf while Little Bug Blue lives underneath. Little Bug Blue would like to move to the top of the leaf but lacks the courage and confidence to do so, despite Little Bug Red's offers of help.

Each page follows the dialogue between the two bugs as Little Bug Red munches away at their shared leaf. The pages feature really interesting die cut holes and cutaways to illustrate Little Bug Red's appetite and this makes Two Little Bugs a beautiful and unique book.

The artwork is very unusual and quite lovely. I like the bug illustrations very much and they are very expressive. The use of colour is understated and works well, although probably isn't interesting enough to engage young children.

Two Little Bugs is the first book published by New Zealand husband and wife team Mark and Rowan Sommerset and is dedicated to their son. I was not surprised to read that Two Little Bugs won the Best Children's Book in the 2012 New Zealand Book Design Awards. The judges said "this wonderful book looks as if it was fun to design. In other words... it is a work of wonderful charm and considerable skill" and I really have to agree - it is one of the most unusual and most well-produced children's books I've come across. 

The problem I have with this book is the depressing and defeatist attitude of Little Bug Blue. All he does for the whole book is sit around complaining about poor little him and how hard his life is. It's downright infuriating!! And the ending, where he flies away with Little Bug Red only adds to my frustration because if he could fly the whole time what was he complaining about?!? Aargh!!

Most children's books with morals and values have a good message and I'm just not sure what this one says. I guess as Maximilian gets older we can discuss life choices and how to be positive and make something of yourself.

Putting that aside, this is a lovely little book and Maximilian often chooses it for us to read so it definitely has appeal for him. It will certainly be a book he'll grow into even more as he is older and can enjoy the lovely page cut outs (without fear of ruining it).

If you want to find out more about this great book, you'll find an excellent review of Two Little Bugs by someone who doesn't want to squash Little Bug Blue here on mylittlebookcase.

I like the way this book shows the lifecycle of a caterpillar while telling another story altogether - it is almost a story within a story. Two Little Bugs could be used well in conjunction with other books about caterpillars or bugs for a themed story time or science curriculum.

This really is a beautifully produced book with really interesting and unusual die cut pages - too interesting unfortunately for an 18 month old. We've had many near misses with this lovely little book so I'd recommend it for older picture book readers, ages 3 and up.

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