32 pages

Age Range: 5 - 8 years

Publisher: Charlesbridge

ISBN-10: 1580895549

ISBN-13: 978-1580895545


  • John Burroughs Riverby Award

  • Cook Prize Honor Book, Bank Street College

  • NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book

  • Outstanding Children’s Book Award, Animal Behavioral Society

  • Washington State Towner Award Nominee

A close-up view of the fascinating world of the dung beetle

Dung is a precious pile of food and drink for these insects.
Simple science text and dramatic illustrations depict how crucial these beetles are to many habitats—including our own. When an animal lightens its load, dung beetles race to the scene. They battle over, devour, hoard, and lay their eggs in the precious poop, recycling dung into food, drink, and fuel for new life. 


Back matter includes instructions for finding dung beetles, fun facts, glossary, and a selected bibliography.


School Library Journal 

“While transforming animals’ waste products into life-giving material, dung beetles perform a vital cleaning service to the environment. This overview of the three types of dung beetles sometimes uses fanciful language, e.g., the “dung-pat pie fresh from the oven,” but rather than distract, it lightens the topic. Often arriving within 15 seconds of the “drop,” the dwellers, rollers, and tunnelers compete fiercely for control of the fresh poop. Each species extracts nutrient-filled moisture from the warm material, either on the spot (dwellers) or as they roll it off or push it into tunnels. Vivid watercolor and pencil illustrations show the life cycle of these flying, crawling creatures. The narrative is divided on each spread, with brief text on one page and a more detailed explanation on the other. The lowly dung beetle was exalted in ancient Egypt, and its vital role in nature is beautifully recognized once again.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Despite its slightly unsavory habits, this important beetle deserves a chance to shine. Bardoe eases into discussing dung by mentioning that an animal, somewhere in the world this very second, is 'lightening its load.’ Beetles flock to one dung pat by the thousands, sometimes getting there a mere 15 seconds after it was dropped...Each double-page spread contains text in two fonts: The larger-type text is chatty and informative, while the smaller provides more detail. Both sets are immensely readable. Golden watercolor sunsets and vast open plains surround the text. Compelling close-ups show deep tunnels and every part of the beetle. The exalted tone of the title and cover illustration of a dung beetle in a triumphant, legs-to-the-heavens stance may seem a bit excessive at first. But no doubt by the end, readers will find it difficult not to join in the adulation. An excrement—er, excellent—read.”


Animal Behavior Society

“Beautiful may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think about an insect that makes its living on the excrement of other animals, but your opinion may be swayed by this year’s winner of the Animal Behavior Children’s Book Award. Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle, written by Cheryl Bardoe and illustrated by Alan Marks (Charlesbridge), describes three different types of dung beetles that use animal feces in different ways. Dwellers extract water and bacterial proteins before the dung dries; rollers form dung balls up to fifty times their own weight, and tunnelers stockpile dung clumps in burrows. They fight, they mate, they dig, and they sometimes steal each other’s dung treasures. After enjoying this lively and informative book, you will almost certainly consider them fascinating, perhaps even beautiful!”