• Sarah Tobias

My Awesome Summer -- Perfect Picture Book Friday


Title: My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis

Author and illustrator: Paul Meisel

Publisher: Holiday House, 2017


P. Mantis tells about his life in journal fashion in this beautiful, informative, and fun book.



Why I love this book:

I have learned over the years, that the more we know about insects, animals, and people, the better we understand them and the more we can appreciate them.


The praying mantis is a strange insect and may appear scary with the odd front legs and even scarier as it gobbles down a smaller insect in just a few bites.


That is what makes this long, quiet, and mostly slow moving insect fascinating to me. One afternoon I went for a walk with my camera and came across a praying mantis. I sat down a few feet away and watched and waited.

The praying mantis watched me while eating a bee.

I sat and watched for an hour. This praying mantis hid in the plant and waited, slowly shifting as insects flew near and like a flash, those front arms grabbed the pray and in seconds the meal was devoured.


A few days later, I was helping to collect prairie seeds at a Nature Conservancy location called Nachusa Grasslands. We came across many grasshoppers and then a praying mantis. I think it looks like an alien.

So, I love this book because it added to my understanding of this strange and beautiful creature. When you read it you will learn about its incomplete metamorphosis* and life cycle.

*(When they hatch they look like a tiny praying mantis and shed their skin as they get bigger. They don't change form like a butterfly or frog.)


Paul Meisel's illustrations are lovely realistic watercolors.


Activities and Resources:

  • There are many insects and plants in the book. Take some time to identify what you see. Can you find any of these insects and plants in your yard, neighborhood, or nearby park?

  • Check out Paul's website.

  • There's a great app called iNaturalist that can help you identify plants and also allows you to share what you find in nature. It's a Citizen Scientist project you can take part in.

  • Write a diary of your days over a period of a few weeks. What changes do you notice? Has the weather changed, have you grown? What did you eat. (Please don't eat your siblings.)

  • Make a diary for an insect, bird or animal you can watch over time. What do you think that creature is thinking? What don't you understand about the life of this creature. Do some research to see what you can learn to make your diary even better.

  • Start a Nature Journal. John Muir Law has a great website with how to's from journaling ideas to drawing, birds, rocks, insects, and landscapes.

  • Paul Meisel has written several books in this series. Keep reading. Learn about other wild creatures.

Something to eat:

Earlier this week was National Ants on a Log Day. How about making ants on a log.

Celery, peanut butter and raisin is the traditional way. Get creative. You could make it with celery, almond butter and dried cranberries.

How about apple slices, nut butter, and sesame seeds?

Apple slices, and dried cranberries?


If it's chilly where you are, maybe you could go for a bowl of soup. Warm and snugly just like P. Mantis.

  • Support your Local Indie Bookstore when you purchase a book.

  • Check out Susanna Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday Blog post each week to learn about more cool books to read with your kids and add to your collection.

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