Bugs by the Numbers

by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss




The creators of the award-winning Alphabeasties And Other Amazing Types are back, this time with an amazing array of insects: butterflies to termites, dragonflies to walking sticks. While the 'alphabeasties' were comprised of letters, these incredible insects are ingeniously engineered out of numerals. Each entry also includes fascinating numeric facts about its subject. It's an eye-catching and imaginative look at the insect world.

Editorial Review

From Publishers Weekly [STARRED REVIEW]:

Trading letters for numbers, the creators of Alphabeasties employ a similar format to create silhouette-style portraits of insects, worms, and arachnids using only Arabic numerals. Thus Werner and Forss use 1s, 2s, and 3s, to distinguish between an ant's head, thorax, and abdomen; a mosquito consists of 75s ("They can detect our breath from 75 feet away"); and a group of ladybugs are made up of numerals that correspond to the number of spots on their wings. Add in several liftable flaps and a wealth of facts about the featured species, and this duo has another winner on their hands. Ages 6–12.

From The Wall Street Journal:

With heavy matte pages and illustration that is both intensely busy and yet soothing to the eye, "Bugs by the Numbers" (Blue Apple Books, 52 pages, $19.99) is the sort of handsome, hyper-designed nonfiction diversion that will fit almost as well on an adult coffee table as it on the nursery bookshelf. Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss have done here for creepy-crawlies and numbers what they did for animals and letters in 2009's "Alphabeasties": In this case, they've used innumerable miniature numbers to create the shapes of creatures, about which they then tell us more. The numbers have relevance, but the bug-connection is often quirky and so especially memorable. The pages devoted to the cockroach, for instance, show us the insect composed of hundreds of tiny black 168's, because "a cockroach can survive for 168 hours without its head." The scorpion (on chic pages of white and eau de nil) is made up of 40s, since "there are 40 species that have a venomous sting considered strong enough to kill a person." Occasional fold-outs allow such creatures as spiders and termites to show themselves fully. To purists who might object to the title's imprecision, the authors cheerfully retort: "Not all critters that fly or crawl on the ground / Are technically bugs, but we both have found / Most folks call them bugs, and since they do, / We figured, why not? We'd call them 'bugs' too."

From The School Library Journal:

"Art by the numbers" takes on new meaning in this rewarding book, complete with foldout flaps, carefully shaped and color coor-dinated to maximize their visual impact. This companion volume to Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types (Blue Apple, 2009) uses numbers instead of letters to depict its subjects. An ant features a combination of 1's, 2's, and 3's to form its tripartite body; a cockroach skitters in a mad rush of 168's (the total number of hours, says one caption, a decapitated roach can survive before it dies of thirst). A nifty foundation of factoids marches artistically along the flamboyant color silhouettes at the bottom and sides of the oversize pages, or clamor here and there on the skillfully designed flaps, while tiny sentences of text whisper across white spaces like miniature passing eddies of air. The female mantis, made from 180's to reflect the number of degrees its head can turn, the authors state reassuringly, only eats its mate 20 percent of the time. A warning note informs children that hungry bedbugs "can travel 100 feet to feed." Data aside (no matter how fascinating), it is the colorful graphic artwork that will capture casual browsers, letting them soak up the hues and the shapes and the skittery numbers, all the while absorbing information effortlessly.
-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

About The Author/Artist

Sharon Werner & Sarah Forss are graphic designers at the two-person design studio Werner Design Werks, Inc. in St. Paul, Minnesota, which has garnered many graphic design awards, as well as a place in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, Musée De La Poste, Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Cooper Hewitt Museum. You can visit them online at


Jacked hardcover. For ages 6-12.


USA 19.99 | Canada 22.99

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