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Monday, March 30, 2015

The Last of the Sandwalkers by Jay Hosler | blog tour

It's probably not much of a surprise to any of you who've stuck around for awhile that I like things that reside pretty firmly on the quirky side. Maybe it's just my contrarian nature, but things that may push others away, or make them scratch their heads in puzzlement, or even flee in irrational, abject terror, tend to draw me in. Snakes. Spiders. Bats, rats (hence the blog name). Because how could you not like this?!

And yes, bugs. Bugs of all kinds. (Well, mostly. Earwigs can go to hell.) I find bugs strangely fascinating and occasionally oddly cute, and the idea of a graphic novel about teeny, tiny anthropomorphic buggies leading little buggy lives, written & illustrated by a Buggyologist, which is a title I'm making up right now* sounds even more fascinating and oddly cute.

So if the idea of teeny, leggy little beasties who run little bug restaurants, and read little bug books doesn't make you run screaming into the night (especially when they're just ink and paper), then you may enjoy Jay Hosler's The Last of the Sandwalkers, and the quirkycrawlycute blog tour of FUN BUG FACTS.
[And before we get to Jay's facts about the ladybug (see? not scary! who's afraid of ladybugs?!), I just want to tell you that I am being stalked by a ladybug. He watches me cook dinner from the ledge near the stove; he looms (in the tiniest way one can loom) over me on my wall when I read at night; we won't even talk about how I'm pretty sure he watches me shower... And don't ask me why ladybugs are always 'he' in my mind, it's just a fact. But this one...he is a nosy bugger. Heh. Bugger.]

Now, onto Jay's much more interesting and less weird facts about the humble -- and adorable -- ladybug!

*And by Buggyologist, I mean biology professor and drawer of cool bugs.

Character Name: Cokie
Species: Coccinellidae sp.
Length: 0.8-18 mm
Color: Black head and thorax, red elytra with black spots.
Habitat: temperate and tropical zones, living on grass, plants, bushes and trees
Superpower: Eating aphids and recovering from being a zombie

I can remember the first time I showed my sons a ladybug (or ladybird, if you prefer). They were very young and entranced by the cute little red and black bump scurrying around my hand and up my index finger. I can remember both boys leaning in for a closer look as the beetle perched on the tip of my finger. Then, it suddenly lifted its elytra to fly away and all heck broke loose. The boys freaked out at this unexpected turn of events and both were in tears. This was the first time that I realized ladybugs could be scary.

Now, to fair, ladybugs don’t bite or sting and they are perfectly harmless to humans. But, harmless is a matter of perspective. Ask an aphid what they think of ladybugs and you will get a very different answer (assuming you can find a talking aphid). Ladybugs are the scourge of aphid populations, which is why gardeners love them so much. They are so effective that aphids sometime purchase their own security force. In these cases, aphids will excrete a sweet sugary substance from their body for ants to eat and in exchange the ants will provide protection from ravenous ladybugs.

If that isn’t scary enough for you, then consider the zombie ladybug. Small parasitic wasps sometimes prey upon ladybugs. These wasps will inject a ladybug with an egg that hatches and proceeds to grow inside and consume the ladybug’s innards. When it’s big enough, the wasp larva will shimmy out of the ladybug and spin a pupal case under the ladybug. The ladybug is still alive, but when the wasp injected the egg it also injected a virus that hijacked the ladybug’s brain and paralyzes it. As a result, the ladybug stands guard over the baby wasp while it completes metamorphosis. When the parasitic wasp emerges about a week later, most ladybugs die, but some actually snap out of the paralysis and start feeding. A few can even reproduce again!

In Last of the Sandwalkers, our beetle adventurers owe their lives to a tough little ladybug named Cokie who showed them that not even the sky is the limit.

The Last of the Sandwalkers by Jay Hosler
Get It | Add It
Graphic Novel, 320 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2015 by First Second
Nestled in the grass under the big palm tree by the edge of the desert there is an entire civilization—a civilization of beetles. In this bug's paradise, beetles write books, run restaurants, and even do scientific research. One such scientist is Lucy, who leads a team of researchers out into the desert. Their mission is to discover something about the greater world...but what lies in wait for them is going to change everything Lucy thought she knew.

Beetles are not the only living creatures in the world.

Jay Hosler is a biology professor at Juniata College, and a cartoonist. He enjoys telling stories about science and the natural world, and his first graphic novel (Clan Apis) won a Xeric Award and was selected for YALSA's 2002 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. His latest book, Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth, was a 2011 Junior Library Guild selection, a nominee for YALSA's 2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and has been included in the Texas Library Association's Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List. He lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and his two little nerdlings.

Check out more of the The Last of the Sandwalkers tour here:

Tuesday, March 24
Seven Impossible Things
Wednesday, March 25
Great Kid Books
Thursday, March 26
The Brain Lair
Friday, March 27
Supernatural Snark
Monday, March 30
The Book Rat (hey, you are here!)
Tuesday, March 31
Miss Print
Wednesday, April 1
Mr. Schu Reads
Thursday, April 2
Geek Dad
Friday, April 3
Monday, April 6
Librarian’s Quest
Tuesday, April 7
SLJ Scope Notes
Wednesday, April 8
Alice Marvels
Thursday, April 9
The Roarbots
Friday, April 10
Sharp Read

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