Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite!

Kids Can. Jun. 2021. 56p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781525301469.
PreS-Gr 3–Insect facts, humor, and a wise-cracking beetle come together in this graphic novel. Captioned panels introduce a handful of remarkable insects. Burt the Beetle observes and wishes that he had special abilities of his own. After watching a stink bug in action, he comments: “Wow! Super gross. But also super cool.” Burt can’t do much more than fly or crawl. Illustrations show him losing a race to a snail, crashing when he attempts to fly, and repeatedly winding up on his back and asking, “Little help?” When his more talented friends all end up caught in a spider’s web, however, Burt uses his sticky legs to hug the spider, preventing the predator from eating his pals, and then takes the web apart by crashing into it with his heavy body. Humorous cartoon artwork and effective panel layouts contribute greatly to the humorous tone. Burt’s subtly varied facial expressions are endearing. Though Spires combines information, such as the strength of ants, with fictional elements, the lighthearted tone makes it all work without being too confusing to young readers.
VERDICT An engaging fact and fiction mix with an appealing beetle protagonist. As with Doreen Cronin’s “Diary” books and Elise Gravel’s “Disgusting Critters” series, most young readers will have no trouble digesting the facts while also enjoying the humor and the story.

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