Mosquito Bite book cover image

Mosquito Bite

  • 1695

By: Alexandra Siy / Illustrated by: Dennis Kunkel


The boy listens.
The girl is getting closer.
Suddenly, there's another sound.
A droning buzz.
Something else is looking for the boy.

The seeker is a mosquito, Culex pipiens, and her search is a matter of life and death. She must find food—blood—to nourish the hundreds of tiny eggs inside her body.

Black-and-white photographs show the children's game of hide-and-seek, while astonishing micrographs show Culex and her world as seen through an electron microscope. Zoom in for a close-up view: A blade of grass looks like a menacing field of spines. A mosquito's eye becomes a bundle of tightly packed tubes.

Discover the life story of a mosquito from a truly larger-than-life point of view.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Alexandra Siy, author

Alexandra Siy is the author of several award-winning nonfiction children's books, including Sneeze!; Mosquito Bite; and Footprints on the Moon. She lives in Fuera Bush, New York.

Read more about Alexandra.

Dennis Kunkel, illustrator


Awards & Honors:

  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12
  • Orbis Pictus Honor Book

Editorial Reviews:


A child is playing hide-and-go-seek with friends one summer night, as readers are warned: "Something else is looking for the boy." That something else is a female mosquito out for blood. In this innovative picture book that's not always seamless but nonetheless riveting, the children's story is intertwined with a study of the common house mosquito. Black-and-white photos capture the children, while the mosquito is introduced through brightly colored, heavily magnified, eye-catching photographs (photomicrographs) of its proboscis, compoud eyes, and other parts. Although the detailed discussion of the mosquito's life cycle makes it clear she is not biting out of spite but for survival of her species, citronella may still trump compassion when readers see the photos of her "carving knives" and the back notes on West Nile virus and malaria. The end matter swarms with more information about mosquitoes and micrographs and also includes a glossary and resources for further research. Nice touch: the endpapers are enlarged photos of window screens.


Here children will get an engrossing glimpse of a smaller-much smaller-world that co-exists alongside their familiar one, as the authors commingle black-and-white photos of children at play around a water-filled old tire, with digitally colored micrographs of a female mosquito hatching, reaching adulthood and seeking out the blood meal that will allow her to reproduce. Posed against black backgrounds that really bring out the color and detail, Kunkel's ultra-close-ups of bristly insect wings and heads, of diatoms, dead skin and red blood cells, make irresistible eye candy-rendered even more fascinating by Siy's clear, specific descriptions and explanations. Some of the black-on-black-and-white captions are hard to discern, but, backed up by additional detail about mosquitoes and about microphotography both, plus a multimedia resource list, this makes an illuminating alternative to Bobbie Kalman's less visually compelling Life Cycle of a Mosquito (2004).

The Horn Book

"It's a humid summer night," and Siy's hazy black-and-white photographs set the stage: children playing hide-and-seek in the woods near an old tire while a mosquito fulfills her destiny. Kunkel's color-enhanced photomicrograph insets provide close-ups of mosquito anatomy, including wings, antennae, and that pesky proboscis that causes problems for mammals. Shown at magnifications of up to several thousand times and with false color enhancement to highlight various features, the micrographs are sharply detailed and provide a wealth of scientific data. It's hard to believe that these images-sometimes monochromatic and sometimes contrasted for detail-are actually of such an annoying insect. The text moves back and forth between discussion of one child's inevitable mosquito bite and detailed information about the mosquito life cycle and development. Additional information at the end of the book explains how the micrographs were created. A glossary, an index, and a list of resources are appended.

NSTA Recommends

Alexandra Siy interweaves a tale of a game of hide-n-seek with the life cycle of the Culex pipiens. On its quest for food (blood), C. pipiens discovers a child in the forest and is able to nourish its eggs and evade predators. Each page in Mosquito Bite will forever change the way readers view mosquitoes!

A typical child's questions, such as "Why does a mosquito bite? How does the mosquito develop?" or "Where does it live?" are answered using text and scanning electron micrographs. C. pipiens and its habitat are enlarged from 10x to 3,400x. Compound eyes, egg cases, and pupa are exquisitely portrayed. Colors have been artistically added to black-and-white images to highlight features. From the proboscis with its serrated cutters to mouth brushes and feathery antennae, C. pipiens anatomy is detailed along with additional facts. The glossary defines critical terms, and web resources are included.

The intermediate reader will find the nonfiction text engaging and the photomicrographs delightful! Some may want to conduct further research on the controversial use of DDT, a widely banned pesticide, or the growing problem of the West Nile Virus.

School Library Journal

Black-and-white photographs of an evening game of hide-and-seek are interspersed with stunning color-enhanced micrographs that record the life cycle of another "seeker": a female Culex pipiens mosquito looking for a meal. Siy's clear, readable text describes the boy's strategies in avoiding his human "seeker" and the parallel search of Culex in the growing dusk. Kunkel's exceptional SEM photos provide unbelievable glimpses of red blood cells crammed in a tiny capillary, the feathery "scales" on a mosquito's wings, and the complex cutting mechanism of its proboscis. A section with further information on mosquitoes and the global health problems they pose, another on microphotography, and a list of further resources are appended. This title is fascinating for its photography and the informative text and captions. It deserves a place in most collections.


Download the Cover


ISBN: 978-1-57091-591-8
ISBN: 978-1-57091-592-5

ISBN: 978-1-60734-146-8 PDF
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 7-10
Page count: 32
9 x 9

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