ISBN 978-1-943147-32-8 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys R 5-8 yrs
As a new class of firefly larvae emerge from the ground, a military instructor awaits at the Photinus Pyralis School to prepare them for the three stages of metamorphosis that lie ahead. True to type, the epaulette- and medal-bedizened instructor reeks of stern sarcasm (“Did you enjoy your month as an egg relaxing in the dirt?”) as he tries to impress upon his giddy pupils the need to master these details—and fast. It’s time for a quick snack, which will require hunting for your own food. Eat, eat, eat, because you’ll need to grow and molt several times over the next year if you want to make pupa. Then a mere ten days later you reach adulthood, where there’s no more eating—just the single-minded search for a mate (followed, inevitably, by impending death). Although Foote’s approach is redolent with humor, she wisely keeps the text fairly info-packed and straightforward, saving the broader comedy for the illustrations, where there are plenty of sight gags to tease out. The larvae are marvelously individuated, with an attentive, notepad-wielding nerd, a bunch of juveniles more interested in playing then learning, one larva who can’t let go of her mossy binky, and a another sporting a rakish acorn cap beret who is the first to enjoy a snail feast. Sharp-eyed listeners may wonder why the instructor, whose adult time is running out, isn’t off on a reproductive mission of his own . . . but somebody’s gotta take one for the team.