Ardena and her mother disagree about how best to handle bugs in this over-the-top, comical rhyming picture book.
Ardena’s mother hates bugs. Yet Ardena learned in Sunday school that each creature is special and precious to God. She tries to explain this philosophy to her mother, but her mom just can’t stop her war against bugs. “ ‘But Mom,’ I said, ‘You can’t catch that fly, / that’s something that God has created.’ / She replied, ‘God made bugs to live outside, / in our home they’re not appreciated!’ ” Ardena’s mother has a huge stock of bug killers, fly swatters, and towels she uses to slay the invading insects. But after each attack, Ardena wonders what God thinks about her mother’s silly antics. Eventually, Ardena and her mom come to an understanding. Ardena realizes that if humans went in insect homes, the bugs would certainly chase the people out. Her mother decides to make an effort to take bugs outside rather than killing them, and she starts by releasing a ladybug. Unfortunately, when a big black fly comes back into the house, it’s the same old story all over again. Ardena, who has dark skin and freckles, is a refreshing narrator whose development is halting due to Vaughn’s often stilted rhyming verse. Theis’ illustrations, especially facial expressions, are enjoyable but amateurish; the linework is often quite clear, and some of the action poses are excellent, but the coloring looks crayonlike, and the final production quality is below typical picture-book standards. Young readers may have trouble identifying with Ardena’s dedication to saving bugs, given how routinely American families call exterminators to eliminate bug problems. While Ardena’s mother may use excessive force to fight the bugs, her attitude is far more common, and many readers are likely to be as unpersuaded by Ardena’s Sunday school lesson as Ardena’s mother is.
A funny story with a softhearted narrator that’s marred by sometimes-awkward verse and intriguing illustrations that never quite meet their full potential.