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by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-29306-5
Publisher: Orchard

Non-stereotypical hobbies and sprightly writing keep this routine tale of a friendship’s collapse and regrouping afloat—but barely. Insect-lover Amanda and Maggie, mad for reptiles, are as close as “two bugs in a rug, two crocs on a rock,” until new classmate Emily, another reptile-phile, shoulders in. Suddenly Amanda’s out in the cold, watching Maggie and Emily bond and seeing her own overtures to join in ignored or scorned. Only when Amanda steps up to save the “Snake Sisters” from a reprimand by explaining to a teacher that they weren’t sticking their tongues out to be rude does the ice suddenly melt, and without further ado the trio becomes “three bugs on a rug, three crocs on a rock.” The plot’s not going to sell many readers, nor will the art; though he catches a guilty look on Maggie’s face once, by and large Johnson depicts a set of indistinctly drawn, stiff-faced children walking through a series of conventional school and playground scenes. The children do impart snippets of fact about the creatures to which they’re devoted, but the brio and good humor of Insects Are My Life (1995) is missing from this follow-up. (Picture book. 7-9)