Recommended for ages 8-12
Darkus Cuttle is worried about his dad, a Director of Science at the National History Museum, who disappeared over six weeks ago. He vanished from a locked room in the museum, and no one has seen or heard from him. Darkus is living with his uncle for now, but he just knows his dad is out there – he’d never leave him, and he’d certainly never kill himself, like some people are suggesting. One day, he spots the two crazy cousins next door arguing about a beetle infestation and discovers that these beetles are pretty special. Baxter, a rhino beetle that befriends him, can understand him! Soon, Darkus and his friends Virginia and Bertolt find themselves on the trail of Darkus’ dad; Darkus is about to find out some secrets about his dad, fashion icon/villainess Lucretia Cutter, and the beetles next door. Can the kids find Darkus’ dad and keep themselves safe in the meantime?
I’m an avowed bug-phobic, so the fact that I wanted to read this book so badly should be a sign of how good I thought it would be. I’m very happy to tell you I was right: Beetle Boy, the first book in a new series by debut author M.G. Leonard, is so much fun. Darkus is a bit of an outcast, but never a wimp. He falls in with two other school misfits who can match him in intelligence and bravery (even if they may need some prodding), and they plan out their rescue mission after careful observation and research. Darkus’ Uncle Max is more than just a plot device to give Darkus a place to live while the story happens around him; he’s an uncle who’s learning how to be a guardian and he’s ready to jump in and get involved when it comes to his brother’s and his nephew’s safety.
There’s adventure, excitement, genetic modification, and a battle involving flying poo that is NOT to be missed. Boys and girls with a sense of adventure are going to LOVE this story and hopefully, like me, be waiting impatiently for the next installment. We’ve got some solid science, with facts about different sorts of bugs that will please any budding entomologist.
Beetle Boy has been designated an Independent Booksellers’ Debut Pick of the Season for Spring 2016.
A great pick for middle grade collections! I love fic that mixes realistic fiction with a touch of science fiction to get kids’ attention.