Written by Dianne Stewart and illustrated by Imile Wepener (Penguin)

What can a boy do when he has a fear of creepy crawlies and he has to go on school camp?

A fear of ‘yucky’ insects

Joshua Finkelstein Bade is known as the boy who hates insects.  He has always had an insect phobia, even though he comes from a family of insect lovers.  One of his grandmothers is an entomologist (scientist who studies insects) and his grandfather, a game ranger in a game park, studies dung-beetles. Joshua is allergic to mosquitoes, squirms when he sees creepy crawlies and hates to touch slimy scum-bags, called slugs.  One of his worst experiences was having lice – something most school children can relate to!  So when he’s told he has to go on school camp he is not impressed.

The lesson

Josh seems to be the only one in his class to feel this way and he can’t understand why his classmates love bugs so much. He tries hard to get out of camp, including faking the measles, but nothing works.  On camp Joshua discovers that another boy, Jason also hates insects after someone plays a practical joke on him and puts a plastic spider on his pillow.  As the boys learn all sorts of insect facts they start to have a grudging interest and respect for insects.  As children in this cyber age spend more time indoors and less outside, the theme of fear of ‘yucky’ insects and scary nature is important.  We need to encourage children to love nature and appreciate spending time outdoors.

Insect overkill?

The book is filled with interesting insect information – which admittedly some young readers might find overkill. The book sometimes feels like an opportunity to tell as many insect facts in one story as possible!  Stewart also gets the dialogue a little off at times – with the boys sounding like young adults spewing insect facts at every opportunity.  Overall though, an enjoyable and relatable story for age 8-11 year olds.
Dianne Stewart has written over 30 books for both children and adults.  She has degrees in African languages and literature, and is well steeped in anthropology, all of which provide an excellent pool of knowledge for her research into African folklore and mythology. She has published many folktales such as The Zebra’s Stripes and Other African Animal Tales and picture books such as Who’s Afraid of the Dark, Dudu’s Basket and Lyle the Crocodile. Check out Dianne’s other books.




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