Bugging Out

(Wild Kratts). 50 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $9.99. ISBN 9781608830138.
K-Gr 3—The Kratt brothers, Martin and Chris, take viewers on two fact-filled science adventures about spider webs and ecosystems. In "Secrets of the Spider's Web," the zoologists shrink themselves into animated spiders in order to save orbital spiders from being captured by an evil fashion designer, Donita. She wants to extract the spiders' silk for a new dress design because of its strength and softness. The boys foil her plan, while sharing with viewers the many qualities of spider silk. The second episode, "Attack of the Tree Eating Alien," features the effects of an unbalanced ecosystem. Chris and Martin travel to a dying forest to discover what is killing the trees. Is it the holes made by a woodpecker? Through closer investigation, the Kratt brothers discover the woodpecker isn't the culprit. Instead, Asian longhorn beetles are responsible. Chris miniaturizes himself and becomes a woodpecker to eat the beetles, but he is soon incapacitated by all the heavy-duty pecking. Viewers learn how a woodpecker is protected by shocker absorbers in his skull, along with special feathers to deflect wood chips. Both episodes are loaded with interesting tidbits and practical information, such as attracting wildlife to keep ecosystems balanced through the use of nesting boxes. Scientific details are skillfully woven into the stories, which are engaging and humorous. Related writing and vocabulary activities can be downloaded and feature a habitat match, word search, journal writing, and an animal guessing game.—Nancy Baumann, Literacy Consultant, Columbia, MO

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