Moth by Isabel Thomas

cover image

Ill. by Daniel Egneus. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408889756
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Themes: Moths. Evolution. Adaptation. Camouflage. STEM. Industrial Revolution. Survival. Pollution. Hope. This amazing book shows within easily understood language supported by the most powerful of illustrations, the ability of an insect to adapt to the blight of man's impact upon the world. A small moth, called a peppered moth because of its black and white speckled appearance, lives near trees where it can hide amongst the patchy lichen from its predators. During the Industrial Revolution, factories spurted out coal dust, ash and soot, covering the trees with black smoke. The peppered moth was no longer able to survive because it had nowhere to hide, but the darker ones did survive, and a shift in their numbers occurred, with more dark ones being born, while lighter ones were rarely seen.
Children reading this book will easily absorb the ideas presented: evolution, predators, camouflage, adaptation, Industrial Revolution, pollution, while marveling at the ability of this small insect to adapt to a rapid change in its environment.
Egneus' illustrations are wonderful, evoking the peace of the environment in which the moths lived, showing them flitting amongst the trees, taking shelter on the lichen covered trees, a hungry fox or owl taking some for their meal. Contrast this with the blacks, greys and browns of the same area covered with the detritus of the Industrial Revolution. No reader can be in doubt about the effect this change had on the moth population.
And within the text, the reader is told about how this little insect adapted to that change, while the illustrations show the larger number of black moths filling the pages.
When people realised what damage had been done, efforts were made to clean up the environment, and so there are many more speckled winged moths appearing - another change, this time signifying hope.
Isabel's words sing with truth, reflecting her background in genetics and evolution at Oxford University, while Daniel's illustrations display a confidence with illustrative techniques which can be seen across a variety of fields.
Fran Knight