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.