Thanks to an oversized, mute blue beetle, a girl gets a lesson in the importance of following her own advice.
Freda is fed—and ignores—a series of dire warnings from the townsfolk in her small community. She enjoys exploring outdoors, knowing that avoiding their dogmatic advice leads to “wonderful discoveries.” She befriends a broken-winged beetle, giving it food, companionship, and a name. Ernest heals, grows in size and strength, and assists in the fields. When the townsfolk tire of his need for sustenance and wrongly accuse him of a crime, Freda sadly escorts Ernest out of town. Gilmore takes the townsfolk’s paranoia to an extreme (if you swim there, carp will eat you, they declare) to accentuate her point about the value of heeding one’s own instincts. Freda, feeling shame for having bowed to ridiculous demands, remembers that sometimes we should “listen to ourselves.” Gilmore’s palette is a muted, earth-toned one save for the bright cobalt blue of Ernest. Freda is an olive-skinned girl, and the townsfolk are primarily white with some diversity included—a couple of dark-skinned people, a woman who could be Asian, and a man in a turban. In the end, not only does Freda remember to follow her heart, but Ernest also saves the day in this oddball tale. (Insects that grow larger than humans, anyone?)
This story about thinking for oneself is sweetly quirky and far from saccharine.
(Picture book. 4-10)
Pub Date: April 15, 2020
Page Count: 32
Publisher: Owlkids Books
Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020