Lessons about friendship and inclusion complement lessons about insects and bugs when Maude tries to join Louise’s Bug-of-the-Month Club.
Maude is new to country life, and she is fascinated and delighted to see her first lightning bugs. “They sparkle like little firecrackers,” she says, “but without all the noise.” Maude is undaunted when she learns that the first step to auditioning for neighbor Louise’s club is to prepare a speech about a bug. She happily researches fireflies at the library and presents a well-researched speech to Louise and the other club members. From the start, only Louise acts cool toward Maude. That coolness evolves into hostility when Louise insists that the other members list all the reasons that fireflies are not technically bugs…and then summarily releases Maude’s 11 coddled fireflies. Sweet-natured Maude channels her anger at Louise into an inspired campaign to protect fireflies, and by the end of the story, even Louise has become an ardent champion of the cause. This is more an illustrated story than a picture book, with a text chock full of fascinating facts about fireflies and how to help them. The cartoonlike children exhibit various skin tones, hair types, and eye shapes, and they are set against uncluttered, pleasant outdoor backgrounds; Maude has beige skin and extremely curly brown hair while Louise’s skin is pale and her blonde hair is straight.
Both text and art evoke the best of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts,” with a 21st-century, environmentalist twist. (Picture book. 5-9)