Beverley BrennaMake that “of a different phylum…”

My cousin Beverley Brenna has a new book coming out, with an anticipated release date of November 15th. It is a departure from the subject matter and style of her recent books, which may come as a surprise to those who have read and loved the time-slip adventure Falling for Henry, or her Taylor Jane Simon trilogy, Wild Orchid, Waiting for No One, and The White Bicycle.

Those links will take you to interviews I’ve done with Bev. Here is a link that will take you to Pat Tilton’s reviews of some of her books. While I’m mentioning Bev’s recent books, I have to do the proud cousin thing, and mention that not only has The White Bicycle been named a Printz Honor Book this year, but it has been shortlisted for a Governor General’s Award here in Canada!

Back to the book at hand. While it’s very different from her latest books, it’s not a real surprise to those of us who have known her all her life.

First of all, it’s a book of poetry for kids. Bev started writing poetry at age seven, emulating her mother who was a wonderful poet. (I well remember my pride when, in sixth grade, I announced to the class that my aunt had written the poem we were studying.) Bev has continued to hone her craft in this art form, and has written poetry for all ages.

The second, perhaps more surprising thing about this new book, is its topic. The poems are all about bugs. This, again, comes as no surprise to me, thinking of Bev, the young teacher, who brought a tarantula (in a glass aquarium) into her second grade classroom as a pet. “Herbie” went home with Bev at the end of the year, and spent over 20 years as a family pet. Bev’s first published book was about a Daddy Long Legs spider (a picture book published by the Smithsonian Institution, Daddy Long Legs at Birch Lane). She has also written a mystery for middle graders called Spider Summer, which features a tarantula as one of the starring “characters.” This lengthy profile of Bev in an online magazine gives more details about her fascination with insects (note that the profile is a few years old).

The third element of surprise reminds me again of the young Bev, at the time a university student working on a course assignment while pursuing her Bachelor of Education degree. To illustrate her presentation on edible wild plants, she clambered around in a prairie slough (a natural body of water often ringed with cattails) to get cattail roots to make into flour, with which she then made cookies for the class. (Apparently the cookies tasted much like arrowroot biscuits.) (Yes, the class ate them.) Here is one of several links I found about the use of cattails as a food source. Are you getting an idea of what Bev’s new book is about?

The title is The Bug House Family Restaurant, and it’s billed as a humorous serving of poems about bugs as food (although I assume these dishes are concocted in Bev’s active imagination, and are NOT something to try at home!) — beetle burgers, centipede-ade, and termite pie, anyone?

Kids are sure to love these poems and laugh not only at the concept of the bug burgers, but also at the reactions of their perhaps more squeamish parents!

Due (in Canada, at least) on November 15th,  The Bug House Family Restaurant from Tradewind Books.

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