13 Ways to Eat a Fly by Sue Heavenrich

13 Ways to Eat a Fly

Sue Heavenrich, Author

David Clark, Illustrator

Charlesbridge, Nonfiction, Feb. 26, 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Flies, Predators, Subtraction, Counting, STEM

Opening: “Big flies, small flies, fat flies, thinner. / Yum! These flies are someone’s dinner.” 

Book Jacket Synopsis:

A swarm of 13 flies buzzes by, losing one member to each predator along the way, whether the unfortunate insects are zapped, wrapped, liquefied, or zombified, the science is real — and hilariously gross.

Science meets subtraction in this clever reverse counting book about predators and prey.

Why I like this book:

Sue Heavenrich’s novel perspective on flies will delight children of all ages — and some adults too. Flies may be annoying, but you may want to think twice before you reach for a fly swatter because there are a host of insects, animals and plants who depend upon them for food — frogs, spiders, fish, birds, bats, and the Venus flytrap. Flies are full of protein and an important part of the food chain. And oops, even people eat these harmless flies by mistake.

I have a  4-year-old great nephew in Florida who loves everything bugs. So this was a MUST June birthday book for him! He has committed the facts to memory and has a great time telling the story in his own words — especially to his older sister. My niece especially loves the counting aspect of the book. So far he hasn’t asked her to bake a cake with fly protein powder — yes, it exists.

The layout of the book is delightful, with fun rhymes and a few lines of informational text. The book counts backwards starting with 13 flies. David Clark’s humorous and embellished illustrations show flies being gobbled up by predators. They are also very colorful and lively. Did you know that frogs use their eyeballs to push flies down their throat and garden spiders catch them in their webs and inject venom to kill it! When thousands of tiny flies hatch over a stream, a trout can devour five hundred in one day. That’s impressive.

Resources: There are so many ways to use this book with young children — at home and school.  Encourage kids to draw a picture of a fly being eaten for dinner. Ask kids if they’ve knowingly swallowed a fly by accident while playing outdoors. Make sure you check out the backmatter, as Heavenrich includes a humorous section on the edible parts of a fly, a Non-Human guide to fine dining, and other books, website and resources. Visit her at her website.

Sue Heavenrich is a curious naturalist and is particularly amazed by the diversity of insects that visit her garden. After years as a journalist she is trading in her reporter’s notebooks and writing for children. Her 2018 book, Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought (co-authored with Christy Mihaly) shows how we can help reduce greenhouse gases – and maybe help solve global hunger – by putting bugs, weeds, and invasive species on our plates. Recipes included. When not writing, Sue volunteers as a citizen scientist, counting bees and other pollinators. Follow her blog Archimedes Notebook where she shares a lot of science, nature  and STEM books for children.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy I asked my library to order.