A Middle Grade Novel for Insect Lovers

I guess I’m a frustrated entomologist. I even did a magazine piece where I followed around an Iowa State professional entomologist — sort of a day-in-the-life of a bug scientist. So I was excited to see the publication of a MG novel by Jennifer Angus, who is a fantastic artist. I’d seen a showing of her work at the Sundance Cinema in Madison and was head-over-heels. Similar illustrations appear throughout IN SEARCH OF GOLIATHUS HERCULES. Here is my thumbnail review:

If you know a young reader whose is fascinated by insects, this is a must read. Author Jennifer Angus takes us back to Victorian times in the story of 12-year-old Henri Bell who is sent from England to America and discovers a strange and amazing skill: he can talk with insects. This sets off a series of adventures that reminded me of Water for Elephants (yes, there is a circus), the Lost City of Z (the story of a Victorian search for a mythical Amazonian Atlantis), with a layering of more fantastical narratives such as Kafka’s Metamorphosis. As a bonus it is filled with the author’s wonderful insect illustrations and lots of entomological knowledge. I would have loved to curl up with this book as a 12-year-old after a hard day of chasing insects with my homemade net of cheesecloth, coat hanger and broomstick.


By Lawrence Tabak

Lawrence Tabak is a widely published magazine writer who is currently focused on writing fiction for young adults. He is the father of two boys. He has worked as a tennis teaching professional, a executive at the United States Tennis Association, and in corporate communications postions in the financial services industry. His essays and feature stories have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including the in-flight magazines for TWA, United, American and Continental; Fast Company, Tennis Magazine,, and The Atlantic Monthly.

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