Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger, 272 pp, RL 3
Buy Boys by Laura Knetzger
Purchased from Barnes & Noble
Published by RH Graphic
Bug Boys creates a complete world for readers, one they will want to wander around in over and over. Bug buddies Rhino-B and Stag-B have a sweet friendship and gentle adventures as they explore, from their mushroom homes to the Great Chrysalis and the Insects' Library, including a stop at the Very Hungry Caterpillar Cafe. A treasure map starts the pair on their way, with a daring rescue after Rhino-B is bugnapped by a Giant (aka human)! Knetzger provides a funny vision of humans as seen by bugs. Dome Spider is a maternal figure, educating the boys on the ways of Giants. One of my favorite scenes happens in the library when Rhino-B holds up his favorite book, Anne of Green Gables, which is, "great sci-fi." He goes on to spout about the "cool speculative technology" in the book, like "tractors" and "carriages."
My favorite vignette, In the Dark, is the penultimate in the book and a fine example of all that Knetzger imbues in this seemingly simple book. Rhino-B and Stag-B are excited for their friend Tula, a tarantula, to return from boarding school in Centipede City. Shy Dragonfly is intimidated and a little jealous of Tula. Tula decides they should all take a tour of Deep Dirt Cave, where things go downhill quickly. Rhino-B is anxious from the start and soon the boys are separated from Tula and Dragonfly. Trapped after falling, Tula and Dragonfly let their real feelings for each other come out, eventually coming to understand each other. The Bug Boys encounter a fluttering flash and end up having a soul searching, mind expanding experience, touching on the despair and joy of existence ("My heart is a black hole!" "My heart is a nebula giving birth to stars!") coming to a final understanding as they encounter phosphorescent mushrooms - they never see sunlight, but they are alive and giving off their own light. A star-nosed mole unites the four friends, who return to Dome Spider's where dinner is waiting.
While I couldn't find many illustrations to share with you here, I hope my descriptions of this world are enough to convince you to run out and buy this unforgettable graphic novel!