This little book was written for larval entomologists, or at least young folks. It chronicles the life of a young centipede as he explores his environment and experiences the ‘growing pains’ associated with growing and molting. Along the way we learn where centipedes live, and we are introduced to the other inhabitants of their environment, mostly other arthropods. Humans are represented by children who collect insects and put them in jars, which worries Arthur. Mama centipede, ever the optimist, tells him “no worries” but papa centipede is perhaps more pragmatic, issuing warnings about the period of vulnerability after he molts.
The value of Arthur the Arthropod is in the introduction of children to the ‘arthropod’ terminology, something that will prove educational to many adults as well. The reader/listener also learns about the other organisms in the arthropod ‘family’, including several types of insects, crabs and crawfish (crayfish). The concepts of molting and of arthropods possessing a rigid integument also are introduced, though the actual terminology is avoided. Overall, there is quite a lot of invertebrate biology squeezed into 24 pages.
Arthur the Arthropod is well illustrated with cheerful, not scary, little critters. I suspect that the cartoon-like illustrations would be appealing mostly to younger children, though the text is clearly not oriented to beginning readers. The illustrations are colorful, and presented in a large (8.5 × 11 in.) (21.6 × 27.4 cm) format. Although soft-covered, the pages seem durable, and most children will relate well to the themes of growing and exploring their environment. The book ends with some additional information; seemingly designed for adult readers: characteristics of arthropods and their abundance. The figure given for known species of arthropods, 875,000, seems a bit low, but in most respects the book is quite accurate and enjoyable. Adults will enjoy it, too!