David Suzuki, seen here in Toronto in May, is releasing his new children's book, '‘Bompa’s Insect Expedition,’ in September. Photo: Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images
David Suzuki Takes Inspiration From His Own Grandchildren for New Kid’s Book ‘Bompa’s Insect Expedition’
The book features Suzuki and two of his grandchildren exploring the insect population in their own backyard. / BY Mike Crisolago / July 19th, 2023
This past spring, after stepping down as host of the CBC nature documentary series The Nature of Things, David Suzuki spoke to Zoomer about what he looked forward to doing in retirement.
The 87-year-old confirmed that he still planned to continue his environmental activism, but he also noted that “now I can get back to what is really my most important job, which is being a full on grandfather.”
Suzuki elaborated on how much he enjoys taking his twin grandchildren — Nakina and Kaoru, who are five going on six — to the forest or beach to explore, and their enthusiasm when they find small creatures and insects to show him.
“My God,” he laughed, “when they catch frogs, it’s just a joy.”
Now, Suzuki is bringing some of that enthusiasm to a new children’s book, Bompa’s Insect Expedition, which he co-wrote with children’s and YA author Tanya Lloyd Kyi, and which features illustrations by Toronto-based artist and writer Qin Leng.
Co-published by Greystone Books and the David Suzuki Institute, the book is described as an “adventure into the extraordinary world of bugs … inspired by David Suzuki’s adventures with his own grandkids.”
The story follows Bompa and his twin grandchildren in the search for bugs in their own backyard.
“As they begin to search for insects, they find world-champion flyers, eaters, and weightlifters. And more tiny surprises at every turn!” the synopsis reads. “With their Bompa at their side, they find a way to recognize the amazing feats and important role of all insects … even the annoying ones!”
The publisher also notes that the book includes insect facts, helpful tips for how kids can support the insect populations in their own communities and “a celebration of grandparents.”
When discussing the children’s book with CBC, Suzuki said that he chose bugs as a subject matter over more “cute and cuddly animals” because “small organisms like plankton, krill, fungi and insects are far more numerous and diverse and support the rest of the living world to flourish. Watch a young child’s first encounter with an ant, a bee or a butterfly and you will see fascination and wonder.”
And it’s not just the children who express wonder during their expeditions. Suzuki explained to Zoomer that watching his grandkids explore nature also helps him shed some of the cynicism over the degradation of the environment and galvanizes his eco-warrior spirit.
“The thing that I love about that is I’m old and grumpy, and I say, ‘Oh God, they’ve clear cut this forest over here. This river is now polluted.’ But they don’t know that,” he explained. “And when they come back and they tell me, ‘Oh, look, we found the salamander under this log,’ they are discovering the world and it is still amazing. So they give me the energy to say, ‘It’s a wonderful place we live in, and we gotta fight to protect it for their future.’”
Bompa’s Insect Expedition will be available on Sept. 19, 2023.