An adventure book review by Erin the Cat Princess
Hello, and welcome to my Saturday Book Review!
This week, we will be reviewing a rather brilliant book about beetles. In fact, there are three books to this series, so at some point, we will hopefully entice you to become beetle fans, too.
Beetles, I hear you shout; surely cats chase beetles and bugs because they’re nasty things. All the movies show them as such?
Well, that was sort of how I felt, too. And indeed, I had not read anything to the contrary.
That is, until now. . . . .
BEETLE BOY, By M.G. Leonard
Published by Chicken House Publishing
Darkus Cuttle, the 13-year-old son of Dr Bartholomew Cuttle, widower, has lost his dad. Well, more accurately, having dropped Darkus off at school, his dad went to the Natural History Museum from where he inexplicably VANISHED. Vanished from a locked room from which there was no other exit than the door he entered and definitely didn’t leave by.
Darkus’s uncle Max, a renowned archaeologist, takes him under his wing. Darkus, having moved into his uncle’s flat over a health food shop, has to attend a new school. It is there that he is befriended by two fellow students, Virginia and Bertolt. Things are rough for Darkus, and the school’s cowardly bullies try to harass him. But with Virginia’s timely rescue, he gets by.
Now, that is all scene-setting and introductions. The real fun of this adventure starts when Uncle Max’s neighbours, Humphrey (an ogre of a man) and Pickering (thin, with unruly yellowing teeth and ill-fitting clothes), brawl in the street. The two can only be described as a nasty pair of bickering, probably incompetent cousins. Each is intent on domineering the other and opening their own shop in the premises they jointly inherited. As Darkus sits on the other side of the road and watches safely, a beetle falls from Humphrey’s trouser leg and makes his way to the kerb where Darkus sits.
Of course, this beetle isn’t your ordinary beetle that a cat would happily play with, but the size of a hamster and with a rather sharp looking horn. It also seems to be seeking Darkus out! How could that possibly be, the unbelieving amongst us would say. Well, this dude is more than he appears. If Darkus had any doubts that the beetle was trying to talk to him, they were put aside when the beetle helped scare off the bullies that re-entered the scene.
To skip a little bit forwards, what happens next is Darkus, Virginia, and Bertolt join up to try and find Dr Cuttle. Max is also on the case but from another direction.
At this point, I am coming perilously close to giving away too much. But what I will say is, we meet Lucretia Cutter, a geneticist. She and Dr Cuttle worked together but had, a long time past, parted company. Now whether Lucretia is good or bad remains to be seen, and her connection to Darkus’s father’s disappearance is, well, uncertain. One sure thing is that she likes beetles and intends to find some she genetically engineered and lost.
OK, that’s as far as I dare go with tempting you. There is a lot more fun, action and adventure to be had in this book, and it would be a shame to give away too much.
So, what did we think?
Until I read this book, I hadn’t even begun to consider the beetle community in all its beauty, variety and even ferocity – in a self-defence kind of way. But it opened my eyes, like so many other readers, onto a whole new world. Believe me when I say that Mrs H and I will be putting up places for beetles to rest up in the garden and even designated beetle crossing points on the palaces drive. I persoanlly wont be bringing any home to…. er…. play with any long!
This book is must-read for the young aspiring ‘Entomologist’ (I guess that means me and anyone who studies insects) and reader. Personally, those little, and not so little, insect guys do so much for us that we should take the time to learn more.
Brilliantly written for readers of age 9 and upwards, this book helps teach, too. It had me hooked, and I went and got Mrs H’s credit card and ordered the next two! Just as well I did, as, by the time I got to the end of this, I so needed another beetle fix.
The book has some lovely illustrations too, by Júlia Sardà, that add to the flavour of the beetle adventure.
Noted author, Katherine Woodfine, is quoted on the back cover of this book and says “A darkly funny Dahl-esque adventure.” I think that is so true, and quite a recommendation in itself.
I would like to add that M.G. Leonard has written many excellent kids books that work really well for adult readers too. If you like trains, you HAVE to check out her “Adventures on Trains’ series of mystery adventures she co-authored with Sam Sedgman. We have, and they are well worth the price of the fare!
Want to buy a copy?
If you’d like a copy of Beetle Boy to add some entomological adventure into your life, then please do BEETLE along to your local bookshop first.
Beetle Boy is published by Chicken House. A link to their website can be found HERE.
Till next time, when we may well be reviewing Book 2 in this series, entitled Beetle Queen, we wish you a bug friendly week!
Toodlepip and Purrs!