CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 21. . . .January 31, 2014
The Bug House Family Restaurant.
Beverley Brenna. Illustrated by Marc Mongeau.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2013.
74 pp., pbk., $12.95.
Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.
Review by Gillian Green.
Ants in His Pants
Juan Henry did a little dance.
“Help me, HEY! I’ve got ants in my pants!
Ants in my pants that are making me WHOOP!
Nippering, zippering, out of my soup.”
“Here, there and
Everywhere! That’s not fair!
I’ve even got ants in my UNDERWEAR!”
Termite pie, mosquito steak, hornet soup and buggy breath mints for the road! Visitors to The Bug House Family Restaurant would find these creepy crawly delicacies and other insect inspired dishes on the menu. The Bug House Family Restaurant is a humorous collection of some three dozen poems linked together under the premise of a restaurant that serves only insects as food. The collection includes poems about the restaurant, staff, customers and recipes.
Beverley Brenna is an award-winning children’s author who has written numerous middle grade novels, including the “Wild Orchid” series. Brenna was inspired to write poetry about bugs after a student brought chocolate covered ants to school and many of her students bravely ate them.
Each poem is on a two-page spread layout with illustrations by Marc Mongeau. The simple black and white illustrations enrich the essence of each poem through comical images. Take for example the poem titled “Tooth Bugs”. During a visit to the dentist, Johnny admits that he eats out a lot and that the things that he eats are not quite dead. The accompanying picture illustrates the bug legs and bodies that are caught between Johnny’s teeth. These illustrations help evoke the imagination and may elicit a few “eeeeewwwws” and lots of laughs.
There is no set formula for the poems, with each being different than the last. Brenna’s language is appropriate for young readers and includes techniques like rhyming and alliteration. The author writes about insects and bugs that any young child would be familiar with- mosquitoes, spiders and lady bugs, but bug species that may be new to them, such as gnats, are also included. Words like “caterwaul” and “entomology” help to build vocabulary and engage with the poems on a deeper level. I think this book would be excellent to use in a classroom as the content is engaging and offers a variety of examples of what a poem can look like.
Gillian Green is a children’s reference librarian in Woodstock, ON.
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