In Paul Meisel’s My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis, a praying mantis describes her life through a series of succinct journal entries. “I was born today!” she writes on 17 May. As P. Mantis grows from nymph to adult, she eats aphids, catches grasshoppers and bees with her speedy arms and sharp teeth, and uses camouflage to avoid predators such as bats, birds, and spiders. “Unlike other insects,” she explains on 27 July, “I can turn my head to see what’s behind me. Hello!” As she grows, she sheds her skin several times, admitting on 2 August, “I felt a little naked until my new skin hardened.” Colorful illustrations depict P. Mantis in her natural environment—inspired by the author’s Connecticut backyard—surrounded by trees, flowers, animals, and other insects. Although some startling facts are candidly addressed (2 June: “I ate one of my brothers. Okay, maybe two”), the narrator omits a few details about the mantis’s life cycle: She lays eggs with no mention of the praying mantis’s often gory mating rituals, and her final entry on 17 October signs off with a “long nap.” Inside the front and back covers, the reader will find accessible descriptions of the praying mantis’s life cycle and habitat to supplement P. Mantis’s experiences.
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