Any parent of a young child can tell you: kids ask a lot of questions. “Why is the sky blue?” “Why does broccoli taste so bad?” “Why don’t I have a tail?”
This search for knowledge is the sign of a growing mind, as kids expand their vocabularies and learn more about the world around them. But while Google and Alexa make it a little easier to answer these questions nowadays, listening to a robotic voice read off the facts just isn’t as fun as reading a storybook. Janice Dixon’s book Adam Names the Insects (Barnes & Noble Press) puts a humorous spin on the question “why is that bug called that?” If you’re looking to nurture your child’s curiosity with a book that makes language learning fun, look no further.
Dixon’s story takes us back to the source, to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve are working hard on naming all the different insects. After already naming the plants and animals, this shouldn’t be too hard, right? Except that Adam’s names for the bugs become more and more complex, and Eve is having trouble keeping up. With only a crayon and a small piece of paper, Eve has to shorten some of Adam’s ideas so she can fit them on the page. Thus, “hard-shelled-insect-with-tucked-in-wings” becomes “beetle.”
Dixon uses clever wordplay and humor to explain Adam and Eve’s thought process as they name each bug. As the two of them debate the difference between “grasshopper” and “grassjumper,” young readers will be encouraged to dissect the root words that make up these insects’ names. Here’s another fun example:
[Adam] looked at the insect. It flew and landed on his nose. “It is a nose-fly.”
Then the insect flew on his ear. “Maybe it is a nose-ear-fly,” he decided.
“Then the insect flew around his head and landed on his arm. “I think I shall name the insect a nose-ear-arm-fly.”
“Fly,” wrote Eve.
Throughout the story, Adam’s ideas for insect names become more and more outrageous, and Eve has to help him pare them down. Even as Adam proclaims “I think I am very good at naming insects,” the reader can’t help but be thankful that Eve has a hand in it.
In the “about the author” section, Janice Dixon shares that while the story centers around the Biblical Adam and Eve, she also took some inspiration from her own marriage. Dixon describes herself as “a creative, spirited fun-loving wife,” while her husband Willard was much more analytical and scientific. This real-life inspiration helped create a believable dynamic between our two main characters, and adds to the playfulness of the book.
Along with Dixon’s talented writing, illustrator Garrett Gonzales combines textured charcoal and soft watercolors to depict a tranquil Garden of Eden.
Adam Names the Insects combines humor and heart. A whimsical story full of playful puns and clever grammar and syntax, it reminds young readers that it’s possible to have fun while learning. The result is a hilarious tale that encourages curiosity — and creativity — in all of us.
Adam Names the Insects is available to purchase at Barnes & Noble.