Will didn’t plan to eat a stinkbug. But when his friend Darryl called new kid Eloy Herrera a racial slur, Will did it as a diversion. Now Will is Bug Boy, and everyone is cracking up inventing insect meals for him, like French flies and maggot-aroni and fleas.
Turns out eating bugs for food is a real thing, called entomophagy. Deciding that means he can use a class project to feed everyone grasshoppers, Will bargains for Eloy’s help in exchange for helping him with wrestling, but their growing friendship only ticks off Darryl more.
Will may have bitten off more than he can chew as crickets, earthworm jerky–even a scorpion–end up on his plate, but insects are the least of his problems. When things with Darryl and Eloy heat up, Will wrestles with questions of loyalty, honor–and that maybe not all friendships are worth fighting for.
We’ve already gotten some great reviews! Kirkus says “Petruck successfully weaves such important themes as bias, solidarity, and coming to recognize one’s own privilege and prejudice together, delivering them in a plot that is so very middle school (bugs! sports!) that it will hopefully appeal to a broad audience who might not otherwise choose to read about these crucial topics. An admirable feat that entertains even as it instructs.” SLJ‘s verdict was that it would be “A sure bet for reluctant readers, pranksters, and budding entomophagists (bug-eaters).”
And in a starred review, Booklist wrote:
In a tale that is funny, perceptive, and topical in more ways than one, a Minnesota seventh-grader impulsively pops a stink bug into his mouth to defuse an uncomfortable situation and finds himself caught between an old friend and a new one. Will’s bug trick does effectively change the mood after long-time buddy Darryl refers to new kid (and native Minnesotan) Eloy Herrera as “cholo” and “the Mexican.” For Will though, newly christened “Bug Boy,” the resultant notoriety is mixed. As he searches for ways, or even reasons, to mend fences with Darryl, Will is schooled on how ethnic stereotyping can inform even the best-intentioned acts; Eloy is less than grateful about Will’s plan to cap a class presentation on insects as food by offering Oaxacan–style chapulines (fried grasshoppers) to everyone. His realization that Eloy doesn’t owe him any favors for not being cool with Darryl’s comments may come as an epiphany to many readers who fancy themselves likewise nonprejudiced. Along with savvy observations about racism and how friendships change and sometimes end, Petruck folds in generous measures of amateur wrestling action and coaching, as well as arguments for entomophagy capped at the end by a set of tempting (to some, anyway) insect-based recipes. Wax worm cookies, anyone?