How To Build an Insect: An Interview with Author Roberta Gibson

See what the buzz is about in this fresh, fun look at insect anatomy. In the pages of How to Build an Insect, you’ll find a workshop filled with everything you need, including a head, a thorax, an abdomen, and much more. This wonderfully original take on insect anatomy sparks curiosity and engages even those who didn’t think they liked creepy, crawly things!

Read on to discover author and entomologist Roberta Gibson’s first literary favorites and how she began to write picture books.

Why did you want to become a writer?

I have always been passionate about reading. As a kid, I read anything I could get my hands on. Later, I began to write reviews to help others develop a love for books. Eventually, I realized that as an entomologist I had something to say about science and nature, which made me want to write my own books.

Why write nonfiction picture books?

The answer to that question is in two parts. First is the picture part. The illustrations are the reason I love picture books. The words can stir you with their beauty, but the art can take your breath away. People need more art in their lives.

The second part is the nonfiction aspect. Because a nonfiction author has distilled a mountain of research into a few key concepts, people of all ages can learn the essentials of any topic in a short period of time. In fact, a recent Jeopardy champion agrees. He revealed he was able to quickly brush up on a variety of subjects by going to the library and reading nonfiction picture books.

Why write about science and nature?

Studies have shown how important it is for our health to go outside and experience nature on a regular basis. Science can help children observe more closely and question what they see. The understanding they develop may have many positive consequences. 

What books did you read as a child?

The ones that really stuck with me were Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White (a book that features a spider in a positive light!) and My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.

Both my sister and I loved, loved, loved The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. We still fight over the copy we had as kids.

What are you writing at the moment?

I’m working more nonfiction children’s books. Whenever I have a minute, which isn’t often, I’m also working on an adult-level mystery featuring some pretty cool cars.

When you aren’t reading or writing, do you have any hobbies?

I enjoy gardening and nature photography. I also study martial arts, a side interest that I discovered pretty much by accident, but which has enriched my life.

Spread from How to Build an Insect in which readers add insect eyes to their creation.

Praise for How to Build an Insect

★”Gibson and Lambelet provide a fun, instructional easy reader text and a science project for children. . . . A must-buy for elementary school and public libraries.”—starred, School Library Journal

“An ideal book for turning STEM into STEAM.”—Booklist

“Distinctive and fun.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Page-by-page, as we put an insect together, Roberta adds fun details.” —Archimedes Notebook

“A great builders manual for a simple craft or a craft lesson to supplement a longer lesson.” —Kiss the Book

Additional Teaching Resources

Encourage your students to learn insect anatomy and build their own insects with these activities and experiments.

Visit Roberta Gibson’s Website, Twitter, and Instagram.

Can’t get enough of incredible creators? Neither can we! Find more author and illustrator interviews here.

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