Helen Milroy: Backyard Bugs

Illustrated by the author

Published by Fremantle Press, WA, 2021

Helen Milroy is a First Nations artist and illustrator, born in Perth and a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Helen has dedicated this picture book to her brother David, in remembrance of all those times when they were children, finding bugs together in the wide outdoors.

I don’t remember looking for insects and bugs in my childhood, but I do remember being stung by bees many times and my mother using toothpaste to soothe the painful wound. We saw lots of bull ants in the red soil of my grandfather’s farm in Monbulk and heavy, iridescent beetles winging their way to shade under the chestnut trees.

When I am out in the garden today, I’m happy to find a ladybug. They are feather light, small and delicate, unique in colour and the number of dots they carry on their backs. Sometimes I see praying mantises too, swaying hypnotically, until they pounce, faster than you can imagine, upon an unsuspecting fly. Some spider webs are engineering marvels, and make you think of strands of pearls on dewy mornings.

This picture book is a wonderful introduction to the world of insects and bugs for very young children. You could walk out the back door and discover all of them in your backyard. Ants marching, dragonflies flitting, worms wriggling, spiders hanging, snails slipping and sliding, crickets chirping and ladybirds landing upon your sleeve. Each insect has its own double page spread, simple rhyme, and is illustrated using bright and vibrant colours nestled within stunning indigenous designs.

I can highly recommend this picture book for children 2-4 years and below are more suggestions for picture books which feature insects and bugs:

Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

Bugs Everywhere by Lily Murray Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

Bug Bear by Patricia Hegarty Illustrated by Carmen Saldana

Peep Inside Bug Homes
by Anna Milbourne
Illustrated by Simona Dimitri

Beehive by Jorey Hurley

The Spider and the Fly
by Mary Botham Howitt
Illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi

Caterpillar and Bean
by Martin Jenkins
Illustrated by Hannah Tolson

Flutter by, Butterfly
by Petr Horacek

I Love Bugs by Emma Dodd

What the Ladybird Heard
by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Lydia Monks

Superworm by Julia Donaldson Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

The Woolly Bear Caterpillar
by Julian Donaldson
Illustrated by Yuval Zommer

A Butterfly is Patient
by Dianna Hutts Aston
Illustrated by Sylvia Long

Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

Be Nice to Spiders
by Margaret Bloy Graham

Ten Little Caterpillars
by Bill Martin Jr.
Illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Caterpillar Butterfly
by Vivian French
Illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Yucky Worms by Vivian French Illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg

Arabella Miller’s Tiny Caterpillar
by Clare Jarrett

Alpha Bugs by David A. Carter

How Many Bugs in a Box?
by David A. Carter

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

The Very Clumsy Click Beetle
by Eric Carle

The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle