Tulip and Brutus by Liz Ledden
Illus. by Andrew Plant. Ford St Publishing, 2019. ISBN:
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Ladybirds, Insects, Stinkbugs, Relationships. Tulip is a ladybug and lives with the other ladybugs amongst the flowers, while Brutus is a stinkbug, and stinkbugs live in trees. Each gets its nourishment from the plants quite differently. A ladybug nibbles and sips, while a stinkbug bores and sucks sap from the tree. One day it begins to rain. Each insect uses smell to warn the others, so stinkbug lives up to his name and lets off a whopper, while ladybug lets out a small pong. The rain sweeps them away and they all end up together in a sticky pile of debris.
Here a dragonfly hovers overhead assured of a meal, but the ladybugs and stinkbugs evade the invader, letting off a combined pall of smell, sure to deter any possible threat.
After their near misadventure, both groups live happily side by side, the ladybirds sipping the flowers and the stinkbug boring the trees.
A funny tale of two different groups working together to overcome a common enemy, the humour about letting off smells will be a treat for younger readers, initiating discussion about why animals expel air and how it is an aid to digestion as well as a way to warn others. This seemingly little story gives a great deal of information about insect life and will initiate discussion about insects in the classroom. Students will see parallels between the two sets of insects in the garden and the various different groups playing in the playground at school, in the classroom or at home. A warm tale of friendship, or working together to overcome a common problem and of diversity, exemplified by Andrew Plant's hilarious illustrations depicting the human characteristics of these two tiny insects as they survive in the garden.