Synopses & Reviews
This is the fantastic story of Henri Bell, a near-orphan who in 1890 is sent to live with his ancient great-aunt and her extensive button collection. One rainy afternoon, Henri strikes up a conversation with a friendly fly on the windowsill and discovers he possesses the astounding ability to speak with insects. Thus commences an epic journey for Henri as he manages a flea circus, commands an army of beetles, and ultimately sets out to British Malaya to find the mythical giant insect known as Goliathus hercules. Along the way he makes friends both insect and human, and undergoes a strange transformation of his own. Artist Jennifer Angus, known for her Victorian-inspired exhibits of insect specimens, brings her distinctive sensibility to the pages of her first novel.
"Roald Dahl meets Franz Kafka in this charming and unpredictable debut novel, which is set in the 1890s. While staying with his eccentric great-aunt in America, 10-year-old British boy Henri Bell discovers that he can communicate with insects. He soon parlays this ability into a job as a flea wrangler with a circus, leaving his great-aunt's home to see the world and attempt to discover the fate of his father. Three years earlier, George Bell mysteriously vanished in the jungles of British Malaya while hunting the legendary giant beetle known as Goliathus hercules. At every turn, Henri is stalked by the malevolent Agatha Black, who revels in torturing insects; furthermore, Henri appears to be turning into an insect himself. Angus, a visual artist who extensively uses insects in her work, breathes life into her characters (both six- and two-legged) and color into her Victorian-era world, giving the story a sense of wonder and an air of danger. With respect and clever characterization, she makes fleas and other creepy-crawlies downright sympathetic, leaving readers to rethink their relationship with the insect world. Ages 8 12. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Ten-year-old Henri Bell discovers he can speak to insects and, as he travels the world in search of a giant legendary insect, he begins to metamorphose into an insect himself.
About the Author
Jennifer Angus is a professor in the Design Studios department at the University of Wisconsin--Madison. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her art, including Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, and Wisconsin Arts Board grants. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. This is her first novel.