Creator Spotlight: Gregory Mone
Read & Do
This week we spoke with Gregory Mone about his work on Strange Nature: The Insect Portraits of Levon Biss with photographer Levon Bliss:
I wasn't much of a bug person until I came across the insect portraits of Levon Biss. Normally Levon photographs world leaders and famous athletes. Then his son brought an odd little creature into the kitchen one day. Levon was captivated, and soon he was photographing a whole series of insects, giving them the same attention he'd devote to a celebrity. The portraits turned into a globe-traveling exhibition, and then Levon decided he ought to give other kids a chance to experience the sense of wonder that captivated his son. That’s where I jumped in.
Working with Levon’s amazing photos, I talked to researchers all over the world about the insects, and we created a book packed with fascinating details, scientific mysteries, and the occasional laugh.
Levon’s portraits totally altered the way I look at these little citizens of our natural world. I suspect they’ll change the way kids see them, too. And if the young readers in your life happen to carry a few critters into your classroom, library, or living room after reading Strange Nature, well, I’m sorry. But not really.
Safe to say, you will never see insects or learn about insects in more detail than in this book. You may even fall in love with the unique characteristics and decide to become an entomologist. Each insect portrait is a compilation of 8,000 different photographs. Facts and detailed close-ups help readers understand the purpose of the spikes on the forelegs of a Mantis-Fly is to help them hold down their victims. Or that the three tiny amber-colored circles called ocelli help keep an Orchid Cuckoo Bee in flight. If you have never encountered an Assassin bug, you might consider yourself lucky. In some parts of the world, these creatures, also known as kissing bugs, can bite you on the lips while you're sleeping. Even those squeamish about bugs will be enthralled with this book.
Gregory Mone is the author of several bestselling works of fiction and nonfiction for both children and adults. His latest middle grade fantasy is Atlantis: The Accidental Invasion, which is not about bugs. He is a contributing editor at Popular Science and an award-winning science writer. Keep up with him on Instagram.