Mosquitoes ring the dinner bell when I step into our backyard. Then I read about a man who suddenly developed an appetite for bugs, so much so, that he raced in, around, and under bushes, hid behind trees, and leapt amazing heights just to scarf up flying insects. Instead of thinking him weird, I wanted to invite him to our 4th of July picnic.
The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival: PETRONELLA SAVES NEARLY EVERYONE by Dene Low, illustrations by Jen Corace, Houghton Mifflin, 2009
Obviously, one woman’s glass of iced tea is another’s dreaded discovery. Petronella is about to be presented at her 16th birthday party when she discovers to her horror that her guardian and beloved Uncle Augustus has suddenly developed a predilection for eating bugs. Yes, bugs!
Set in Victorian London, this is a book for middle grade girls who want to while away hot summer hours on a back porch or in an out of the way spot in the garden. Or not. The reader is swallowed whole by the main character’s adventures (while Uncle is swallowing bugs), so the reader’s setting really doesn’t matter. As long as there are no interruptions.
Kidnaping, bugs for clues, making sure Uncle doesn’t eat those clues, and oh, yes, one’s best friend’s brother, a titled Lord with the Home Office, is simply to be swooned over. Or is that for? The pace is frantic.
Fond of terms of endearment like “old egg” or “old prune”, the trio, Petronella, her best friend and the young man known as one of England’s most eligible bachelors, travel from one crisis to the next. While they unravel clues, they barely escape a pursuing pack of outrageously proper relatives who could (and would!) alter Petronella’s life drastically if they find out about Uncle and his joy of eating bugs.
This will be a fun book for the readers at your house, but sadly, Uncle was a no-show at my holiday picnic.