Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean
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Review of Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean
Julia Kordesich (Knihnicky)
Sacred Heart Elementary School
6th-8th Science and Religion
This book, written by Sigrid Schmalzer is a journal-like narrative as a man describes his experience as a child in the Chinese countryside. It presents the life of Pu Zhelong, a Chinese scientist, through flashbacks and connects it to a child’s perspective of a changing world, set in Communist-era China. The child’s parents were farmers and were struggling with the invasive species of insects, such as moths, stink bugs, and stem borers, that destroyed their rice and lychee crop. When scientist Pu Zhelong came to their village, the children helped him in his "laboratory", where they learned that breeding wasps are natural enemies to the invasive species, while keeping their crops safe from pesticides.
This book is a great resource that depicts how farmers reduce their pesticide use by utilizing parasitic wasps that cut down on the populations of insect pests. Although it is a picture book, I think this would be great to use at a middle school level. This book can be used easily as an introduction to various STEAM activities, specifically on the topics of insect life cycles, food webs, ecosystems, and sustainable farming. The book provides detailed illustrations of insect life cycles as well as diagrams of the mechanics of sustainable farming. These illustrations can be recreated in a classroom or even used as inspiration for students to create their own version of “wasp breeding containers”.
At the end of the story, the Schmalzer includes a short background on Pu Zhelong and how he came to be a scientist who studied agriculture. During this biography, she talks a bit about how pesticide use has grown in China and still being used today. With high level middle school students, this additional resource in the book can spearhead a research project into Pu Zhelong’s contributions to agricultural and environmental science.