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The subtitle of Jonathan Balcombe’s new e book, “Super Fly: The Unexpected Lives of the World’s Most Successful Insects” results in the primary query on this week’s podcast. Why “successful”?
“Their diversity, for one,” Balcombe says. “There’s over 160,000 described species — and it’s important to add that qualifier, ‘described,’ because it’s estimated there may be about five times that many that are undescribed. Insects make up 80 percent of all animal species on the planet, so that says something right there about how incredibly successful they are, and flies are arguably the most species-rich subset of insects. It’s estimated there’s about 20 million flies on earth at any moment for every human who’s on the earth. And they occupy all seven continents.”
Marjorie Ingall visits the podcast this week to debate her essay about why she finds it troubling that children’s literature focuses so relentlessly on the Holocaust.
“Just as Black kids deserve more than books about slavery and suffering — they deserve books about Black joy and Black excellence — so too do Jewish kids deserve books that reflect the incredible diversity and often happiness of their lives,” Ingall says. “And I think sometimes we push the Holocaust because we want to tell kids: ‘Look where you come from; look how important it is to be Jewish; look how people died because they were Jewish.’ When we’re talking about children’s books, that is not a way to make kids feel a connection.”
Also on this week’s episode, Tina Jordan seems again at Book Review historical past because it celebrates its a hundred and twenty fifth anniversary; and Elisabeth Egan and Joumana Khatib discuss what they’ve been studying. Pamela Paul is the host.
Here are the books mentioned on this week’s “What We’re Reading”:
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