- My Stinky Summer by S. Bug by Paul Meisel
Meisel, Paul My Stinky Summer by S. Bug; written and illus. by Paul Meisel. Holiday House, 2020 [40p] (Nature Diary) Trade ed. ISBN 9780823440535 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9780823448197 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 1-2
As introductory pages explain, the brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive species in America, destroying crops and flourishing in the absence of natural predators. S. Bug then narrates its own life story, starting with its parents' meeting and then its hatching ("'Hooray!' said nobody but me"). Dated diary entries in the familiar format of the Nature Diary series then follow S. Bug as the insect molts, defeats predators ("I stunk him. He spat me out"), grows wings, and finds tasty crops to enjoy (and despoil). Then as winter comes S. joins friends in an old tree and waits for spring. Meisel manages droll, restrained anthropomorphism here that illuminates stink bug habits without making S. either a villain or a misunderstood hero; Bug is just a bug doing its bug things, without malice or virtue. Painterly digital art is fluid yet largely realistic in its insect portraiture; comedy comes from pithy word clouds from S. and various animals that encounter the bug ("Ew. Stink bug" being a recurring favorite). The diary entry format gives lots of breathers to new readers but also works well for a readaloud, especially for young naturalists or recent victims of stink bugs. Additional stink bug information appears in front and end matter.