Written and Illustrated by Julian Hector
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010
Once there was a garden full of bugs. One of them was the Gentleman Bug. He taught a class and he loved to read.
The plot in a nutshell: A bookish bug sets his sights on a ladybug who is new to his garden.
This is a very simple and charming story. The Gentleman Bug is a male ladybug (naturally) and he inhabits an anthropomorphic world where bugs dress in clothes and live in houses. He is a teacher and a booklover (I was going to say bookworm, but that’s an entirely different kind of bug) and that makes him the butt of jokes from the other local bugs. When a pretty ladybug shows up in town, he wants to make himself more dapper so that she will notice him. His students help him dress more stylishly for an evening out, but it doesn’t go as planned and he hurries home. He gets invited to the opening of the new library and learns that she is the new librarian. The book ends with them reading together.
I enjoyed this story, particularly the artwork. Author/illustrator Julian Hector uses watercolors and pencils to bring these adorable characters to life. In addition to our main characters, the pages are filled with grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, ticks, ants and just about every other kind of bug that I generally keep a good distance away from in real life. The colors help evoke a warm and playful mood, while the fashion and surroundings all seem very Dickensian. Bugs who wear cute little red caps and travel by coach or carry little parasols with them are welcome in my yard anytime.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that you should never change who you are to impress someone, because it might turn out that they’d like you better as you already are.