Thursday, 7 January 2016

M. G. Leonard - Beetle Boy (The Battle of the Beetles) Book Review


  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Chicken House Ltd (3 Mar. 2016)
  • ISBN-10: 1910002704
  • Age: 9+
Darkus is miserable. His dad has disappeared, and now he is living next door to the most disgusting neighbours ever. A giant beetle called Baxter comes to his rescue. But can the two solve the mystery of his dad's disappearance, especially when links emerge to cruel Lucretia Cutter and her penchant for beetle jewellery? A coffee-mug mountain, home to a million insects, could provide the answer. 
Darkus and Baxter are brave enough to find it.

The diversity of beetles is very wide; they are found in all major habitats and this one can be picked up from all good bookshops from March 2016. I know this is an early book review, but when a book is this good it's so hard to keep quiet about it. It is such a flapping great read that it left me feeling flighty just even thinking about it. This book is already destined to be one of the greatest middle grade children's reads of this year.

You may have seen the book cover before, as it was a recent winner of "Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books" annual book cover wars for 2015/2016, and has been fantastically illustrated by Julia Sardia. The finished copy has been lovingly embellished inside with small black and white illustrations which adds a really nice touch to the story inside. The paper edges are very eye catching with images of small beetles; no expense has been spared as this is very rarely used in production. I would like to congratulate Chicken House on a great production of the overall book; it makes it a book to pick up and cherish. 

Beetle Boy is the first book in the trilogy written by M.G. Leonard, who works in London as the senior digital producer for the National Theatre. Her fondness for coleoptera has transpired into a fantastic family read that will have you feeding on the nectar of some great fantasy moments. From the first page you are richly transported into a Dahl-esque adventure that will have you addicted with every
page that you turn.

The story is deeply heartfelt, but has a clear mystery to solve involving a cornucopia of bugs. With a cast full of lovable and relatable characters, who are all up against the evil Lucretia Cutter (mad scientist/bug exterminator), the plot will have you hooked. Her eccentric character and gross shenanigans are all entertaining and delicious thrilling to read. 

You start out on a brilliant adventure with the characters, but in a heartbeat you find yourself visiting Furniture Forest hiding behind a wardrobe with Darkus and the gang. Then the next minute you are scuttling to Beetle Mountain in search of Humphrey and Pickering spying on their mad thieving scheming plans. It's all delivered in a Disney-like cinematic world, which will be loved by all ages and genders. 

The narrative explores aspects such as family and friendship by following the children's bold and gross plans. No stone is left unturned and no beetles are harmed when faced with the wings of one's imagination. You will laugh and cry as you are strapped in this rollercoaster of an adventure. The science-fiction twist will have you buzzing with delight right until the last page is turned and will leave you wanting more. This is one of the best debut reads that I have read in a very long time. Imagination with wings, fantastic. 

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