This one has been in my future reading stack for six months. I chased down a copy not from a publisher request, but because of several other factors:
- I enjoyed Rebecca Petruck’s previous book, STEERING TOWARD NORMAL, and looked forward to another off beat story in the same Minnesota setting.
- The title and cover begged to be picked up.
- The topic of bugs brought me back to my 4-H entomology project.
BOY BITES BUG is not a sequel and focuses on a different set of characters. Told in third person, the plot centers around seventh grader, Will. He’s on the wrestling team and is not the most popular kid. That all changes when Eloy, a new Hispanic student, is the target of a racial slur by one of Will’s best friends. Will eats a bug to defer the attention away from Eloy and becomes known as Bug Boy.
Will is pleased with his newfound fame, but the strained relationships with an older sister and his two friends cause him to rethink what kind of person he’s become. Questions about prejudice and loyalty stand center stage as Will continues to pursue bug eating in a classroom oral report.
Will is a great role model for readers. He debates his actions and seeks to make things better both in his family and at school.
It was refreshing to have wrestling as a backdrop, a sport almost never mentioned in middle grade books. I learned many aspects about the training involved and how matches are conducted. Will’s friendship with Eloy strengthens through their participation in wrestling, but also has many bumps along the way.
Bug eating is a real phenomenon and even has a name—entomophagy. The information provided in the back pages include recipes for Cricket Snack Mix, Chocolate-Covered Ants, and Wax Worm Cookies.
Humorous and not too disgusting, this contemporary tale has a lot of heart.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Petruck is a Minnesota girl, though she also has lived in Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, England, Connecticut and, currently, North Carolina. A former member of 4-H, she was also a Girl Scout, a cheerleader, and competed in MathCounts. She reads National Geographic cover to cover. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction, from UNC Wilmington, and is represented by Kate Testerman of kt literary.
You may visit her online at www.rebeccapetruck.com
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