Children’s book review: The Boy Who Loved Ants, Sara van Dyck

This is a terrific children’s book about the entomologist Edward O. Wilson. Wilson is an emeritus professor at Harvard who has written books about diverse subjects including human and animal behavior, but The Boy Who Loved Ants focuses on his youth and his early studies. The book is listed as being for ages 7 and up.

The writing is very smooth; van Dyck is a former teacher, and it shows. (She has published other books with traditional publishers.) The story starts with Wilson at age 6 and most of it concentrates on his pursuits through and just after college. Most of the stories are about, of course, ants. At age 13, for example, Wilson was the first person to record the presence of the invasive fire ant in the United States.

This story of Wilson ends with a description of his efforts to preserve habitat, and an explanation of why small animals and insects are just as important to the environment as larger, better-known fauna. The book itself ends with activities for children to learn about wildlife near their homes; these are good, quick, very do-able activities. (I don’t know about other parents out there, but sometimes I find myself reading “Science Projects Your Child Can Do At Home!” which start off something like, “First, make sure you have a car battery, 60 feet of copper wire, and half a gallon of silver iodide. Next — “)

The book has a couple nice black-and-white illustrations of the young Wilson, and several large color photographs of ants, including a great mushroom fight.

The book is for e-readers only, not in paperback. The image of the cover here is a link to the Amazon listing.

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