Bug Zoo Illustrated by Andy Harkness | Children’s Book Review (Blog Tour)

Posted March 8, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 0 Comments

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Bug Zoo, hosted by The Irish Banana Review!

bug zoo

Bug Zoo by Lisa Wheeler
Series: Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase
Illustrated by: Andy Harkness
Published by: Disney-Hyperion on February 16, 2016
Pages: 40
Source: From the publisher for the blog tour
Add to Goodreads • Buy from Amazon

Ben loves bugs: armored, teeny, leggy, greenie, floaty, wingy, jumpy, springy bugs! After a trip to the city zoo, Ben collects all of the bugs he can find and sets up a bug zoo. He couldn’t be happier–but what about his bugs?

As soon as I received this book, I noticed that it is part of a series called Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase. Being an artist myself, I was curious about what this series is all about and did a little research. Here is what I found, from an article on Publishers Weekly:

The Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios have teamed up with Disney Worldwide Publishing to launch a series of children’s books created by animation artists and storytellers at each studio. The Animation Studios Artist Showcase program gives employees the opportunity to bring their artistic talents to the page in picture books featuring original art and characters.

I thought this was really cool, and knowing the whys of the series really changed my reading experience. According to Amazon, Lisa Wheeler wrote this story and Andy Harkness, who has worked on many of my favorite Disney movies (Mulan, Tangled, and Frozen to name a few), dreamed it up and designed the illustrations using sculpture. You can tell that the focus is meant to be on the magical illustrations and not the story, as the story is very simple. Ben’s love of bugs drives him to create a bug zoo, but nobody comes. He slowly begins to realize that the bugs are not happy, and that maybe keeping them in jars is not the best idea. While the story is simple, the illustrations are quite the opposite.

Andy’s style is striking and vivid, and the colors are amazing. The extreme detail and the three-dimensionality makes each page feel like an extension of your own world. I felt myself wanting to reach out and touch the tree bark or the grass. These same details also tell the story on their own, which is wonderful for emergent readers because they can “read” without assistance. I can just imagine a little child ooing and ahhing over the illustrations and making up their own story to go along with them. Personally, I really hate bugs, but these ones don’t make me squeamish. You don’t have to love bugs to love the illustrations, but if you have a child in your life who does love bugs this book is a treat. The words in the story are simple and easy to sound out, and the font choice does not hinder from the readability of those words. The moral of the story is simple, and reminds us all that nature is truly magical and needs to be left alone sometimes. Picture books for boys can be harder to come by, and this is definitely one that can be added to the pile. Girls will appreciate and enjoy it as well, though, and parents will be pleased with a bedtime story that is not overly wordy. It’s a win for all, but especially for the little bug lover in your life.

Read more about Andy’s creative process and inspiration for Bug Zoo on Disney Insider.
Follow him on Instagram to see more of his artwork, including some of the illustrations from Bug Zoo.

Visit the rest of the tour stops for more reviews!

3/7: Reads All the Books
3/8: That Artsy Reader Girl
3/9: Gun In Act One
3/10: Such A Novel Idea
3/11: Reading Is Better With Cupcakes

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