“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bugged! • Early reader

by Michelle Knudsen • illustrated by Blanche Sims • 2008 • Kane PressEarly reader

Bzzz! The mosquitoes are attacking, and Riley’s on the run! Can he find a way to make himself bug-proof---once and for all?
Story: Poor Riley. He’s tried just about everything to ward off those pesky mosquitoes. Even his “mosquito dance” doesn’t work. To make matters worse, the pesky insects would rather bite him than his friends, Steve and Lara. There’s just got to be something Riley can do before he bugs out!
Story behind the story: From the author of Library Lion (New York Times bestseller and School Library Journal Best Book of the Year list, among many other accolades) and the illustrator of the ever-popular "Kids of the Polk Street School" books, this early reader for children in grades 1-3 is one of the titles in Kane Press' "Science Solves It!" series. The books in the series merge fiction and content in storylines to intrigue youngsters and encourage them to observe, investigate, predict, experiment, compare, and draw conclusions. Kids will be inspired by the characters in each story, as they solve kid-size mysteries and dilemmas. Bugged!, along with the other books in the series, can be enjoyed by independent readers and also read aloud to younger children.
"An excellent book for the school classroom or library.... an engaging story that also helps introduce key elements for critical thinking." Read more of the review at The Reading Tub.
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please click on the "comments" link below for reviews from your colleagues.


Tina's Blog said...

This is a cute story that gives a lot of information about mosquitos. Considering I am the person who always has the most mosquito bites of everyone at my house, I was very curious to see what reasons were given for their attraction to Riley. I like that this is a story that can be enjoyed by itself, and that there are additional text bubbles that give facts. The last page of this book includes some suggestions for further discussion and understanding.
I happened to have this book with me at a teacher's meeting this morning and there were several admirers.
One other comment....having seen other books by Kane Press, I am always impressed that they make sure the illustrations include kids from many cultures. My student population is quite diverse, so to find illustrations that represent that is great.

John said...

Those pesky mosquitoes have annoyed us all, but getting rid of them has always proved to be a battle that we have fought alone until now. Bugged! provides an adventuresome tale that takes the fight to a more scientific level.

Riley’s quest to make himself less attractive to mosquitoes takes a community-based approach with his friends and family. During the adventure Riley and the readers hypothesize about the various and sundry reasons that some are the perfect targets for these determined insects.

It is through the scientific testing that readers are exposed to a wealth of information concerning mosquitoes and the lore surrounding their behavior. The facts presented are fun and memorable, but point to additional areas of inquiry for the interested reader.

Early and emerging readers will benefit most from the book being read aloud in a communal setting. Independent readers will devour the simple story and find themselves captivated by it. The point of view is first person, and that has its own limitations in terms of the story, but that is exactly what will draw many students to begin their own investigative studies.

Perhaps the best use of this book will be as part of a classroom unit on insects. The connections across the curriculum are many and evident. Older students paired with younger readers will also find the book to be most useful. Parents who home school their children should also benefit from the affordable price and content that Bugged! provides.

Add this book with confidence to the classroom library or part of a science center and prepare for more inquiry.

4.5 out of 5

John Parker
Media Coordinator
Andrews High School
Andrews, NC 28901

Allyn said...

Mosquitos! The plague of us all! Bugged is a sweet book about a young one's trials and tribulations dealing with mosquitoes. I was immediately able to identify with the dilemna and the search for a remedy as mosquitos have always plagued my daughter and the answer, "They love you because you are so sweet" has never been a good reply for her. I think children will also be able to identify with the spring, summer, and sometimes fall onslaught of these pesky critters.

Bugged provides not only a narrative touch, but also a scientific investigation into the mix. I think this book is perfect for an addition to a science inquiry. Thank you to the illustrator for including kids of all backgrounds in your drawings. The illustrations are a definite plus as are the inserted non-fiction text boxes. Well done.

4.5 out of 5

Allyn Hunt
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

wisteria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wisteria said...

Just by looking at the cover, you know that children will select this book to read. On the cover, with such a small space the illustrator Blanche Sims has managed to capture the problem of the story with only the title as a clue. I liked the diverse characters portrayed on the cover appealing to a wide audience.

The story follows the adventures of Riley as he can’t seem to get rid of pesky mosquitoes that bite, sting and cause him to do the “mosquito dance.” Thinking like a scientist, he soon begins to ask questions. He wonders why he has to fight off mosquitoes and his friends Lara and Steve have no problem.

Michelle Knudsen has presented a wonderful example of the scientific inquiry method of study in a story form. This is a great way for teachers to introduce how to think like a scientist at an early age. I would not even hesitate to use this when introducing scientific inquiry in upper elementary to spawn class discussion on the scientific process.

Children will love this adorable story and relate to Riley’s predicament. They will laugh, and have fun guessing why the mosquitoes only bother him. What a terrific combination of science disguised as a story. The text feature side bars with facts about mosquitoes are a perfect complement. My only concern is that these boxes disappear into the white background, often missed by the reader.

Michelle Knudsen has created a delightful naturally told story, enhanced and clarified with the expressive pictures of Blanche Sims. I recommend this addition to any classroom or school library. There are so few books of this quality and currency out there. Looking forward to seeing more.
Recommended 4.5 of 5

Donna Edwards
Library Media Specialist
Pembroke Elementary School
Danbury, CT

Mary Kirk said...

Bugged! by Michelle Knudsen is a science story designed for grades 1 through 3. It is one of the titles in the Science Solves It! series by Kane Press. The stated goal of the Science Solves It! series is to show children that science is a part of their lives every day, every week, and every month. Bugged! meets this goal.
The main character, Riley, is getting bitten by mosquitoes much more often than his friends Lara and Steve. Riley wants to figure out why. He changes the soap and shampoo he uses. He tries organic bug spray. He attaches little fans all over his body to blow the mosquitoes away. Nothing works.
Riley and his friends go to the library and research mosquitoes. They find out that mosquitoes are attracted to Limburger cheese. They even talk to a bug specialist. When Riley and his friends go to Riley’s house, they take off their shoes because Riley’s mom has just mopped the kitchen floor. That is when the mystery is solved. Riley’s feet stink. They smell a lot like Limburger cheese. He scrubs his feet really well and wears a different pair of shoes outside. This time, he gets only one mosquito bite.
Bugged! is a humorous, colorful book that will be a great read-aloud for a classroom teacher doing a unit on bugs. I spoke with the science teacher at my elementary school. She said the book Bugged! covers exactly what she discusses with the students when they do a mosquito unit.
Science Solves It! series includes twenty-eight titles. Seventeen of them deal with life science, four deal with earth science, and the last seven cover physical science. Ten of the Science Solves It! titles are also available in Spanish.
Bugged! is a title that will be frequently checked out by both teachers and students. The price is right at only $5.95. The only downside is that it is available only as a trade paperback, which means it won’t last too long as a library book.
I rate Bugged! a four. It would be a fun side dish to accompany a main dish dealing with mosquitoes.

Mary Kirk
Media Coordinator
Sherwood Forest Elementary
Winston-Salem, NC

Melissa said...

This story was very informative and easy to read for young readers. I was quite anxious to find out the attraction the mosquitoes had to Riley. The informational text boxes are a big hit in my book. Students thrive on little tidbits of knowledge. What a great storyline as it pertains to everyone outside of Antarctica! The illustrations in this book are very pleasing to the reader and ethnically diverse as we are in America. I will share with my fellow teachers and look forward to reading new Kane Press books.

LisaC said...

I read "Bugged!" to my grade 3/4 class today. I told them I was reading it to them because I wanted to know their opinion because the books adults think kids will like aren't always the books kids actually like. We live in the a place that is very mosquito infested in the spring, and often through the summer, so they were all able to connect to this book. In addition, they learned a lot about mosquitos (they knew only females bite, but didn't know mosquitoes leave their spit behind and that is what makes us itch.) It was a very good book for a read aloud, and 14 of 17 students in my class ranked it as a "great" book. Two thought it was good, and one only likes Sponge Bob. I'm not sure anyone can cure that at this point! :) I will also be leaving this out to use as an independent reading choice. As others have said, the facts intermingled with the narrative are very interesting. I thought they might be too distracting to the story, but my students didn't think so.

I rate this 4.5 out of 5 because by the end I was pretty ready for it to be over.

Classroom Teacher
Ontario, Canada

Anonymous said...

I read this story to first graders on one of my visits to an elementary school, and they were connected to the story, while they learned facts about mosquitoes. The students enjoyed they book very much; it is a fun and educational book. It is definitely a cute story that some of the kids can relate to Riley but now they know why and how to avoid being the main target for this bug that BUGS as the kids said.
Riley’s discoveries helped the kids explore Riley’s situation as their own. They kept thinking back to the times they have been bugged by mosquitoes and they were able to point out reasons why they were being the target, they also learned tips of what to do to keep them away or avoid this buggy-situation.

I highly recommend this book for early readers and teachers to introduce it to class; it was fun, cute, educational, and interesting and a book we can relate to. The early readers were requesting the book to check it out and take it home to read at home to parents and share the tips with them. I really enjoyed the book.

Haydee V.

Terry said...

Riley likes playing outside with his friends, but he doesn’t like being the mosquito magnet. Even when Steve joins Riley in doing the mosquito dance, they still swarm and Riley ends up with lots of itchy bites. Yet Steve and Lara don’t seem to draw the mosquitoes’ attention. Why not?

Together, the three friends begin experimenting with ways to help Riley. Bug sprays aren’t an option, because Riley’s mom doesn’t like chemicals. When changing soap and shampoo don’t work, Riley starts doing some research. Mosquitoes like sweat … so he won’t run. But Lara and Steve get sweaty and they aren’t bothered.

When a natural repellent attracts the neighborhood cats, it's time for more research. The kids visit Professor Hayes, the “bug expert.” When they get home, they discover the root of Riley’s mosquito magnetism.

On the last page, the author includes a set of questions about the events in the story. This is excellent for gauging comprehension. Each question also includes the page reference so that readers can also refer to the original material if they don’t remember … or check their work. I also like that there are two additional experiments pictured where the kids have to explain what theory the kids are testing.

Overall, this is a fun, enjoyable way to present nonfiction material. Young readers will relate to the story on several levels. They’ve likely felt the itch of a mosquito bite, and Riley’s efforts to thwart them will make them chuckle. Professor Hayes’ humor seemed a little over-the-top, but it fits with the funny factor of a first or second grader.

Nearly every other page has an inset box with facts about mosquitoes. The text in the boxes is much smaller than the main story. In some cases, the box has more words than the story text on the page. Some readers will see this as a “trick” to fill the page with “too many words.” Others may think the information is secondary and ignore it. Somehow readers need to be directed to the boxes because they contain facts relevant to the story.

The author moves through the scientific process with concrete examples of how the kids tried to solve this specific problem. If the goal of reading the book is to help kids more fully understand the steps of the scientific process in general, then they will need to read the book with an adult. Riley and friends move through the steps, but linking them to specific steps will require assistance.

This is a book well suited for classroom use. It would be a great one to share in the spring, right before mosquito season. The practical advice gives kids the opportunity to try different methods themselves as they begin summer break.

Picnic Basket Rating: 4

Susan Mello said...

I found this story engaging considering the subject matter. It makes science more applicable to everyday life. I believe my students would enjoy this book. Especially the gross blood sucking parts. As "grossness" causes almost as much response as "underwear" in a story.
I believe the students could learn new facts without even realizing it with book written in this manner. Keep up the good work!
I give this book a 4 out of 5.

Heather said...

The books in the Science Solves It Series are perfect for introducing science skills & concepts.

Bugged will be wonderful to add to unit studies about insects, but the story does not flow naturally. The story is, for the purposes of the series, driven by scientific inquiry and while that makes a good science book, it does not make great literature.

I rate this one a 2. Useful in classrooms where the subject is being taught, but not for every picnic.

Heather, Children's Librarian

PLLoggerR said...

Bugged! by Michelle Knudsen is a humorous, but serious, book about mosquitoes and the way we react to them. Riley is always being attacked by these pesky insects. His friends try to help him by suggesting bug spray, different soap, and shampoo. They help him conduct research on what attracts mosquitoes and how to control them (even suggesting a pet bat!). They all go visit a scientist to learn even more. Some of the results of the research are found as part of the text, others as "side boxes" in the illustrations--perfect for those who want to just read the story as well as for those who want some real science.

As far as a story goes I give this a 3--it is interesting, but not enough plot to read over and over. As an introduction to mosquitoes and scientific questioning, I give this a 4. This would have been a great book to have for last year's summer reading program--"Catch the Reading Bug." I'll recommend it to young students interested in insects and science.

Becky, Co-Director, Peacham Library

Katherine Farrington, Colonial School District said...

I had mixed feelings about this book. Since there were parts I really liked but other parts I didn't like so much, I would rate Bugged! a 3 out of 5. The things I liked were the topic and the factual insets. Why do mosquitoes bite some people more than others? That's a question that is broached frequently during the summer months but rarely answered. Now kids have a book they can read to discover the answer. The text is pretty easy to read for primary grade students, and they can identify easily with the characters in the pictures and setting. I also thought the fact insets were very easy to understand and all very interesting to read. I liked the picture of the students at the library and the open book with facts typed on the page. My main gripe with the book was the basic story. Some of the dialogue seemed too forced. For example, the part about the kids talking about not wearing bug spray with chemicals in it. I understand the author wanted to sneak that into the story somehow but realistically I don't think too many young kids are going to talk about that. To me, the story was a little too casual and took away some of the scientific credibility of the author. I thought the science activities in the back of the book were good discussion points, and I see a lot of merit in a series like this but I think it might need a little fine tuning.

Val said...

One of my first thoughts when I received the book was that I loved the cover because it depicted children with different ethnic backgrounds. This is a story with a simple storyline that students can easily make connections to while they are reading. I also loved the text boxes with the science facts. Some students will enjoy this book because of the storyline and the scientific information will be an add-on. For others, the scientific information will be the main draw, and the storyline will be the add-on. Either way, this story is a wonderful addition to an early elementary school classroom. I would rate this book a 4.5 out of 5.

Elementary School Teacher

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Bugged! and read it as soon as I received it. It is a science books that reads easily, like a story. Intertwined in the story are a lot of scientific and interesting facts that are easy for a student to understand. The story tells about a boy who attracts mosquitos and goes in search, with his friends, of finding out why they are attracted to him, but not his friends.

I give this book a 4 because it would be nice to know this information before going on a picnic!

Julia Pitau
Denair Charter Academy
Media & Intervention Technician

Kim Evans said...

"Bugged!" is a fun and engaging story. It is written at a level that children can understand and about a subject that children are interested in. The story has a science component that allows you to integrate it into class curriculum. I read it to my Grade 1 class and they thoroughly enjoyed it! I found myself wondering what Riley would do to get rid of the mosquitoes. The children particularly enjoyed making the BZZZZZZ noise themselves as we read the story. The book is very enjoyable!

Tiffany said...

Bugged by Michelle Knudsen, in my opinion, is a curriculum book and not a pleasure reading book. Even for an easy reader, the plot is forced and preachy, and very much concerned with teaching the methods of scientific discovery, rather than entertaining. The illustrations, while portraying children of all types, make the book feel as if it was written in the late 1980's, rather than 2008. The scientific information found in the book is intriguing, although the Think Like a Scientist Section is quiz-like, and the Try This activities have nothing to do with mosquitos. Overall, as a public library book, this will not be flying off the shelves, but for a grade school science unit, this will find its audience. I give is a 2 out of 5.

Tiffany Torbeck
Youth Services Librarian
Bloomingdale Public Library
Bloomingdale, Illinois

Carolyn said...

The ability of the author to address science in such engaging literature is to be admired. My seventh grade son was enthralled and wants to read more literature by this author.

Cynthia said...

Targeted at a grade 1 – 3 interest level, with the large type and high-frequency vocabulary of early readers, Bugged! offers more than enjoyable easy reading with life science content about mosquitoes. As a sample of the “Science Solves It” series by Kane Press, Bugged! offers enough to interest me in the entire line of “fun stories with a curriculum connection” from this innovative publisher.

From a reading perspective, Bugged! provides a good mix of high-frequency sight words and multi-syllabic vocabulary words to offer young readers both success and surmountable challenges within the story text. Sidebars address content knowledge and vocabulary in reader-friendly bites that complement the story. Colorful illustrations depict multi-ethnic characters and inviting scenes that add depth and humor.

The science skills of observation, questioning, inference, prediction, experimentation, comparison, and communication are incorporated as students strive to solve the central problem of how to help Riley escape his plague of mosquitoes. The characters conduct research by using the Internet at home, consulting books in a well-populated library, and visiting an actual science professor in his college setting. Content information appears in the main text, the sidebars, the illustrations, and is reinforced by the “Think Like A Scientist” activity page following the story.

The publisher’s forward informs adults that Kane Press “Science Solves It!” titles have been reviewed by respected scientists and teachers during development to ensure accuracy and alignment with current content curriculum frameworks. This careful development pays off handsomely in an attractive, humorous story that children will be eager to read, explore, and revisit repeatedly. Titles address physical science, earth science, and life science topics. Some titles are also available in Spanish.

Thank you, Kane Press, for making learning fun and rewarding! Young readers will enjoy emulating the skills modeled by the characters as they solve their own scientific mysteries. Me? I’m off to break my piggybank so I can enjoy more of these delightful stories and explore the math, reading, and social studies nonfiction series titles, too.

The Picnic Basket rating: 5 for classroom use; paperback cover won't hold up under the stress of public library lending

Cynthia Winfield
Educator & Author; 8th grade English teacher (1997-2008), Ottoson Middle School, Arlington MA; author of Gender Identity: The Ultimate Teen Guide, No. 16 in the Scarecrow Press “It Happened To Me” nonfiction series for older teens, edited by Arlene Hirschfelder (2007); MFA in writing, Emerson College, Boston, 1999

Dana said...

I give this story a 5 out of 5. I love the extensions at the back of the book, and think it would be a great story for a guided reading group. The combination of a fiction story with nonfiction elements is great. I can see children making many connections to the characters in the story and their experiences. The book also lends itself to many extensions in addition to the ones suggested by the author. I think this book could even be used for upper elementary students who are reluctant readers as a way for them to "research" information. I know we use the Bridges math program and a few grade levels study bugs. This would be a wonderful tie to the math curriculum as well as science. I would absolutely suggest this book to others!

Literacy Coach
Chicago Suburb

Kristen said...

Bugged! by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Blanche Sims

I give this book a 3 out of 5. This is a cute story about a boy name Riley trying to figure out why mosquitoes constantly swarm around him and don’t seem to bother anyone else. He and his friends try to figure out what is different about Riley – is it the soap he uses? Does he sweat more than everyone else? He orders some all-natural bug repellent, but that doesn’t work either. His friends go with Riley to the library to see if their research can turn up any solutions. Finally they go see a professor at the local community college to hear some tips on protecting themselves from mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that some of us just smell better to mosquitoes than others.

The book itself has several fact boxes that give additional information about mosquitoes that relates to the story. I enjoyed learning more about mosquitoes and how to avoid getting bitten as much as possible. The main problem with the book is that it is only available in paperback and would not hold up well in the library.

Pre-School-8th grade Librarian
The Swain School
Allentown, PA

Anonymous said...

Sandra Says...I thought "Bugged" was great. I teach middle school students. I have four classes of ESOL students so immediately the fact that the students were ethnically different was a grabber.
I have three students who are just learning the basics of English. This is a perfect book for them to practice reading. Those in my class who have been reading English for quite some time liked the book because it was a quick easy read, and they learned things they didn't know. I learned things about mosquitoes that I didn't know.
I loved the "Think Like a Scientist" activity in the back. They didn't have anything to do with mosquitoes but one of my remedial students picked up the book from the ESOL rack because it was an easy read. He said, "Hey they even got the scientific process in the back, you know observing and making guesses."
Obviously it would have been great if there had been some tie-in to the mosquitoes, however it was great to see it teach a concept that students in all grades sometimes struggle with. I rate it a 4.5 only because I felt like it drug on a couple of pages too long.

Jessica said...

I loved this story! It gave information about mosquitoes while also telling a fun and comical story that kids will love.

The story was told in the 1st person point of view which most children really enjoy.
The pictures are colorful and multicultural. I just love this!
There are facts on every page. I like how they are seperate from the text so they can be used to teach about nonfiction text features.
One other thing that I really liked is the last page and the activities. It was so neat that there were activities for the students to do after they had read. As a teacher I hear parents wanting to know what they can do with their kids. This is great for them!

Overall I loved this book. It may be a big long for younger students. I would give it a 4 out of 5 just because it is a little longer and drawn out.

Good book at a great price with a good story!

jwelch said...

Bugged! is a cute story about a boy who tries everything to rid himself of the pesky mosquitoes that seem to enjoy his taste more than that of his friends.
I can see young children reading this book and then investigating other everyday problems they wonder about.
This book, about the real reasons that mosquitoes are attracted to some people and not others, would be great paired with the folktale, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears.

Caroline Weaver, Elmhurst IL said...

Who doesn't HATE mosquitoes? And what child will not identify with being the target of these little bloodsuckers? This book will be wildly popular once th ewarm weather arrives. It is an amusing story, filled with interesting facts & helpful hints, about mosquitoes and how to help avoid being their buffet table. I love the "info bubble" and the "Think Like a Scientist" page. Another great book from Kane Press!!

Mary said...

I read this story to my second graders and they absolutely loved it. They really liked the science presented in it and they commented that they liked the way that the characters did research. After reading it to the students, I put it on the shelf for them to read independently and they actually fought over who was going to get it first! I give it a 5 out of 5.

Northwest Oklahoma

Anonymous said...

Received this book and I shared it with reluctant readers and they loved it. They wanted more and asked if they could use it during free-read time. Their teacher was impressed and loves the facts throughout this book. Fun read and students enjoyed the illustrations and fun activities. Good way to extend their reading.

I rate this book a four+!

Anonymous said...

Bugged! is a funny book. Students can relate to this book and the annoying creatures that are the villains of this book. The author chose to use very diverse characters. This book will go great with a science unit on insects or bugs. The facts are interesting and make you want to see what will be next. Book is a read once and done.
I enjoyed that they have a section in the back titled Think Like a Scientist, however, the Try This section has great activities but they have nothing to do with the book.

rate a 4 out of 5