Cover image for Oddhopper opera : a bug's garden of verses
Oddhopper opera : a bug's garden of verses
Cyrus, Kurt.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Diego, Calif. : Harcourt Brace, [2001]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
A collection of poems about the activities of a variety of different bugs which flourish in a garden from early spring to late fall.
Reading Level:
NP Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.7 0.5 46600.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.8 2 Quiz: 32959 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3553.Y49 B83 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3553.Y49 B83 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3553.Y49 B83 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3553.Y49 B83 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Put an ear to the ground for the clicking, popping, snapping music of this garden grown wild. In verse as witty as it is buggy, Kurt Cyrus conducts a chirruping chorus of voices great and small. From a stinkbug trying (and failing) to hide itself to a cicada's struggle to escape its own skin to an ant's marathon dinner march and a frog's identity crisis, here is a garden teeming with down-to-earth fun for readers of every species--no matter how many legs they have!

Author Notes

Kurt Cyrus has hammered out such books as Billions of Bricks, Tadpole Rex, and Oddhopper Opera: A Bug's Garden of Verses. He has also illustrated books by authors such as Eve Bunting (The Bones of Fred McFee) , Lisa Wheeler (Mammoths on the Move), and M.T. Anderson (Whales on Stilts) . Kurt lives in a small town in Oregon. Visit him online at

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3and flowers in Cyrus' garden aren't the focus in this "garden of verses." Rather it's the wiggly world of creatures on the ground that gets all the attention. A snake slithers along the ground until it catches its prey in wide-open jaws; inch-long ants march in a line; beetles roll balls of dung; snails, magnified many times in gorgeous detail, slap "slime at a furious pace." From early spring rains to late summer harvest, this garden teems with activity, all of it described in witty verse, with poems distinct yet joined into a tapestry of seasonal change. The gross and fascinating scientific details of the sturdy art call out first, but when children get around to the words, they won't be disappointed. --Stephanie Zvirin

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bold, inventive artwork lends high spirits to Cyrus's (Slow Train to Oxmox) down-and-dirty view of a garden. Full-bleed pictures share the eye-popping scale and dimensionality of David Kirk's Miss Spider books, but the palette is realistic and the action reflects bug behavior. At first the impression is one of enthusiastic chaos. Poems appear without titles but have different narrators; occasionally, words loop around the pages like vines. But ample visual and verbal clues spell out distinct story lines and a temporal setting, progressing from summer to autumn. Early on, snails begin a race ("Give them a holler, a nod, and a nudge..../ Give them a minute, and see if they budge"); they reappear on subsequent spreads until, on the final page, Mrs. Molasses winsÄa Pyrrhic victory, as an overripe tomato then falls on top of her ("SPLAT!/ That's that," the book concludes). One standout spread shows what appears to be a branch surrounded by a snake, but a closer look reveals a Katydid atop a walkingstick. Running gags include an overturned beetle who struggles to right himself; and ants who march along, shouting "BOINK" as they bump heads (a joke for budding entomologists who are aware that ants touch antennae to communicate). Many kids will like the gross-out factor in the attention paid to dung beetles as they feast; vegetables as they rot; bugs being consumed; etc. Throughout the seasons, this volume sustains its gleeful bounce. Ages 5-10. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-"Once upon a garden rotten,/Twice forlorn and half forgotten-," a variety of beetles, earwigs, and other earth dwellers hid beneath the fetid vegetables, waiting for warmer weather. With a rhyming text and bug's-eye views of the towering vegetation, Cyrus follows insects, snails, frogs, and a snake through their spring awakening and summer foraging. Some of the animals eat the garden plants, some eat other creatures, and then there are the dung beetles: "`Papa, O Papa Bug, what will we eat?'/`It's gummy, it's yummy, it's dung! What a treat.'" The exaggerated size of many of the insects and ocher tones in the crowded pages lend a surreal quality to the scenes. The rolling rhyme features running accounts of several characters. Bummer Beetle is trapped on his back until the odor of Stinkbug finally motivates him to struggle upright. The snails have a race. "Give them a holler, a nod, and a nudge-/Give them a minute, and see if they budge." The garden is a messy melange, and the tone is one of mocking humor. In the end, as fall winds down the eating season, the snake makes a crunchy "munchie" of one of the snails, and a ripe tomato hits the ground, "SPLAT!/That's that." The slapstick account of the seasons runs a bit thin, but some children will enjoy the gross elements of slime and mold and the bug-eat-bug world.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.