An interview with The Bug Girl

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The Bug Girl
Written by Sophia Spencer with Margaret McNamara
Illustrated by Kerascoët
Published by Tundra Books

Sophia Spencer has loved bugs ever since a butterfly landed on her shoulder--and wouldn't leave!--at a butterfly conservancy when she was only two-and-a-half years old. In preschool and kindergarten, Sophia was thrilled to share what she knew about grasshoppers (her very favorite insects), as well as ants and fireflies . . . but by first grade, not everyone shared her enthusiasm. Some students bullied her, and Sophia stopped talking about bugs altogether. When Sophia's mother wrote to an entomological society looking for a bug scientist to be a pen pal for her daughter, she and Sophie were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response--letters, photos and videos came flooding in. Using the hashtag BugsR4Girls, scientists tweeted hundreds of times to tell Sophia to keep up her interest in bugs--and it worked! Now Sophie tells her inspiring story in this picture book that celebrates women in science, bugs of all kinds and the importance of staying true to yourself.

Nicola Dufficy, the EMWF's Artistic Director, recently had a chance to interview Sophia Spencer (aged 11) about the book.

Nicola: Your story has been turned into a beautiful book. What do you hope kids who read this book will learn about following their passions?
Sophia: I want kids to know that it is okay to be who they want to be, love the things they find interesting and not to give up when other people might not have the same interest or hobbies. It’s okay to be different.

Nicola: When Morgan Jackson posted your mom’s letter online, what was the best thing about receiving messages from entomologists and bug lovers from around the world?
Sophia: Seeing all the woman scientists who have had similar experiences to me and knowing that they kept going and it was a really cool job.

Nicola: If you could be a bug, which one would you be?
Sophia: A grasshopper because of their abilities.

Nicola: What advice do you have for kids who’d like to study bugs in their backyard?
Sophia: I think it’s important to have a good big net and big catcher. Do not be scared. Bugs won’t hurt you if you are gentle. And to remember at the end of the day to put the bugs you find back to the wild where they belong.

For outdoor and bug-related activities, check out this "Get out and Read" Activity Kit from Tundra Books.
And don't miss more of our recommended reads for kids!