Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard
Chicken House, 2016. ISBN 9781910002704
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Darkus Cuttle's dad is missing. He has to live with his uncle, change schools, make new friends and work out why he can understand a huge rhinoceros beetle who has become his friend by chance. Thanks to this beetle (he names him Baxter) rescuing Darkus from some bullies, Darkus becomes Beetle Boy. Darkus knows his dad would never leave him so sets out with some help from his uncle and a lot of help from his new friends, Virginia and Bertolt, to find out what happened. Who knew it would lead to some amazing bugs and an amazing adventure.
Darkus encounters Lucretia Cutter, an avid bug collector and fashion designer as well as the antagonist for this story. She is willing to pay for the deaths of the amazing bugs Darkus has found and while he is trying to save them, uncovers another secret or two. Who is this Lucretia Cutter and does she know Darkus's dad? Was that a claw instead of a foot? Did Lucretia just try and shoot him? Does Lucretia hold the key to his dad's disappearance?
Beetle Boy is a wonderful story full of hope, adventure and total belief in one's father as well as oneself. The author has captured the everyday issues of a young boy who dares to be different and not conform to the expectations of the bullies while creating a wonderful mystery and adventure for any reader who loves bugs. It is highly recommended for readers aged 10+ but will especially appeal to boys.