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Nonfiction Monday: The Fly by Elise Gravel

The Fly (Disgusting Critters series)
By Elise Gravel

Tundra Books

ISBN: 9781770496361
Grades K-3
Out Now

Find it at:
Schuler Books | Your Library

I am, if nothing else, on the lookout for books that will be engaging to kids. There’s plenty of nonfiction out there that does the job admirably – providing information on whatever topic it might be – but won’t grab those not necessarily interested in the topic of the book. Rare are nonfiction books that might appeal to a wider audience. The Fly by Elise Gravel (and the Disgusting Critters series to which it belongs) has the potential to do this. Funny, informative, gross, and just plain entertaining, it has a lot going for it.

Let’s meet the fly, shall we? Interesting little bugger. Each two page spread introduces a new fly fact, while the illustrations riff away. It turns out there’s a lot of humor to be mined in the fact that flies multi-lensed eyes allow them to see in all directions at once, or that female flies can lay over 100 eggs at a time.

It can’t be easy to make these unlikeable creatures into the opposite, but the digital artwork does a good job of it. The color palette is modern and muted, with great hand-drawn lettering popping up throughout to emphasize key words.

The overall design of the book is a strong point. My sister-in-law (who introduced me to this book) says The Fly has a bit of an Elephant & Piggie look. I agree. It has a distinct early reader trim size (tall and narrow), and matte finishes throughout, as well as characters speaking in word bubbles.

A small qualm. I wish the book would have stuck with the fly on the cover as the main character throughout. This isn’t exactly the case, leading to the use of “she” where you thought it was going to be a “he” and vice versa.

Fact-filled enough to satisfy those interested in flies, yet with enough charm to grab those who aren’t. This is a great entry into a series kids will likely latch onto.

Review copy from the publisher.

Visit Elise Gravel’s website.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.