Sunday 14 August 2022


Grub, written and illustrated by Sandra Severgnini (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781922539267

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

On the floor of the rainforest, far below the tree canopy, a small grub has a big question, ‘What will I become?’ as he senses that his body will be changing. To answer his question, he approaches some of his forest friends – such as the ladybird, butterfly, cicada, and more, asking for an answer. Each of the insects reply in the negative when the grub asks if he will become like them. The cicada, for instance, pauses mid-song and says, ‘No, as a nymph I had impressive front legs.’ After each answer, the grub ‘ate and he ate, and he grew and grew.’

Finally, Grub knew it was time. ‘He built himself a protective shell out of his droppings and fell asleep, wondering.’ One day, following the rain when ‘the forest fruits flourished and fell’, he breaks out of his shell into the bright daylight. He is no longer a grub, but a Hercules Beetle. (The final spread is of an illustration of the beetle which stretches across the double pages to show his massive size.)

It is not only the grub’s journey from one stage (grub) to another (beetle), but each of the insects who Grub meets explains its metamorphosis, so this book provides the young reader with useful biological information. The illustrations, too, are excellent in that they show the flora and fauna of a rainforest and its insects. On the front fly pages all kids of grubs, beetles, and other insects are shown in their early life cycle: the final fly pages show them as their adult selves after metamorphosis.

The illustrations are realistic and beautiful. One can almost ‘smell’ the forest odours. The trees, ferns, and bushes are faithfully rendered as are the timbers, grasses, fungi, and other ground coverings. There is a particularly attractive page showing the forest flowers, which include orchids and fly catchers. Every page invites the reader to examine it for deft touches (such as wandering ants, dewdrops, and underwater leaves – and boots!)

After the final reveal of the Hercules Beetle are five facts – such as the beetle is among the largest of the Rhinoceros Beetles, with males growing up to 19 centimetres long (71/2 inches).

This is an excellent non-fiction picture book ideal for young nature lovers aged 5 years and old.

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