One Long Line: Marching Caterpillars and the Scientists Who Followed Them

MIT Kids. (Discovery Chronicles). May 2024. 64p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536228687.
Gr 3-5–Inquiry shapes this creative biological glimpse into the lives of marching caterpillars and two scientists who dedicated their studies to them. Jean-Henri Fabre and Terrence Fitzgerald never met. Although born in different centuries and countries, they each studied the behavior of caterpillars in their natural environment and conducted experiments to answer their questions. Fabre was one of the first scientists to examine insects in their environs. When Fabre marvels at caterpillars moving in a procession, he asks, “can the second caterpillar be a line leader, too?” Paired with accurate and dual-tone illustrations, the lines that sculpt Fabre’s face in lamplight are sharply beautiful, as he carefully lifts a caterpillar. Green’s remarkable art adds heart to this shared experience of two men with a great passion, and their choice to formulate sketches is reminiscent of a scientific catalog. Fitzgerald has his own questions, and Burns frankly discusses the sacrifice of a caterpillar in a direct, but gentle way. It’s clear, from Fitzgerald’s behavioral experiments, he did his best to be humane. Informative panels appear at the end of each chapter, either discussing one of the scientists or providing further information about caterpillars. Back matter includes a glossary, further reading, source notes, and a bibliography.
VERDICT Burns’s writing style invites readers in to a compelling narrative of wonder and discovery; this is a first purchase.

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