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Bookbag: ‘Do Doodlebugs Doodle?’ and ‘A Bear Sat on My Porch Today’


Friday, April 13, 2018

by Steve Pfarrer

DO DOODLEBUGS DOODLE?

By Corrine Demas and Artemis Roehrig

Illustrated by Ellen Shi

Persnickety Press

corinnedemas.com; artemisroehrig.com

Children are naturally curious, and if there’s one thing that never fails to prompt their questions, it’s the animal world: What’s up with all those critters, their exotic looks and colors, their mysterious names and habits?

More specifically, how about the insect world? Does a dragonfly really look like a dragon, and can it spit fire?

Children’s book author Corinne Demas and her daughter, Artemis Roehrig, answer some of those questions in their new book, “Do Doodlebugs Doodle?” It’s a kid-friendly introduction to a number of bugs whose names might be misleading, but that still have interesting characteristics worth noting.

Demas and Roehrig, who both live (separately) in Amherst, collaborated on two previous children’s books in 2016. Demas is a longtime writer for both children and older readers, while Roehrig researches invasive insect species with a University of Massachusetts Amherst laboratory.

Their book takes the form of a lively Q&A in which the authors pose questions about insects, such as “Do horseflies gallop?” Turn the page, and you’ll (mostly) get an emphatic “No!” for an answer — but also a short explanation about the bug in question, such as that horseflies are the fastest flying insects in the world.

Those questions are accompanied by entertaining art by illustrator Ellen Shi, like a little boy who sits astride a big horsefly and loses his cap as it takes off.

The book’s appendix includes a photo of each bug, its scientific name and a short explanation of its characteristics and habits.

Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig will read from their new book Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Edwards Public Library in Southampton and at 2 p.m. at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton; on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst; and on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Forbes Library in Northampton. All events are free.

 

A BEAR SAT ON MY PORCH TODAY

By Jane Yolen

Illustrated by Rilla Alexander

Handprint Books/Chronicle Books

janeyolen.com

Jane Yolen, the Valley’s dean of children’s books — as well as plenty of poetry for adults and books for middle-grade readers — now has published 365 titles: one for each day of the year.

Among the latest by the Hatfield writer is “A Bear Sat On My Porch Today,” a tale for very young readers, told mostly in rhyming text, about a burly, furry visitor to one little girl’s home. 

It’s a story that might well have been plucked in part from Gazette stories in the past several years about bears in this region that have trooped into people’s yards to ransack bird feeders, investigate compost bins, or break into porches and garages.

In Yolen’s tale, the bear in question refuses to leave the porch of the little girl’s home; she tells the ursus it can stay as long as “you don’t scare my mommy.”

But no sooner has the bear settled in than it’s joined by a squirrel, a skunk, a family of opossums and a cavalcade of other animals.

It’s not long before the porch is straining under all that weight — and when disaster ensues, can all these visitors from the animal kingdom be counted on to fix things up?

 

ALTERED ANCESTORS

By Amy Johnquest

Spot 22 Press/James McDonald Books

bannerqueen.com

Holyoke artist Amy Johnquest, long known as “The Banner Queen” for her colorful paintings and banners inspired by old circus sideshow banners, has a new project out.

“Altered Ancestors: A Family Album” is a limited edition book that features photo portraits of people from the late 1800s, for which Johnquest has created imaginative — and sometimes surreal — painted backdrops.

The photos come from a collection of vintage images compiled by Stacy Waldman, Johnquest’s artistic partner; the two have a curio shop/art gallery, Spot 22, at 22 Cottage Street in Easthampton.

Johnquest’s book, printed by graphic designer James McDonald of Northampton, has over 50 original works in full color. The book becomes available for sale on Saturday at 5 p.m. 
at Spot 22 as part of the 2018 Easthampton BookFest.