4-6th Grade Virtual Book Discussion: Boy Bites Bug w/ DIY Chromatography Butterfly 

Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck is a middle school juvenile fiction book for 4th-6th graders. 

Will didn’t intend to eat a stinkbug, but when his friend Darryl calls the new kid, Eloy Herrera, a racial slur, he didn’t think he just acted. Now will is Bug Boy and he kind of likes it. 

Intending to keep up his notoriety and title as Bug Boy, Will talks Eloy into helping him get his classmates to eat bugs. But the more Will learns about Eloy and entomophagy in general, the more sincere he becomes about his project. For Will, eating bugs is no longer just a joke but everyone sees it that way. And what’s worse, he really likes Eloy and is afraid he may have ruined this budding friendship. 

What can Will do to make everyone understand his real intentions when all anyone can see if a joke? 

Discussion Questions: 

1. What is this book about? What are the main themes? 

2. What is the difference between entomophagy and entomology?  

3. Will doesn’t intend to eat a stinkbug but he does it anyway. Why? And why is this so important to the story? 

4. In many cultures eating insects is commonly practiced. Have you ever eaten a bug? Why do you think there is a stigma around eating bugs? 

5. What do you think about Will as a character? Is he relatable, over-the-top, silly…

6. As Will’s friendship with Elroy grows, he and Darryl start to grow apart. When Will asks his dad for advice he says: “Sometimes,” Dad said, “people outgrow each other.  It doesn’t mean we stop caring or forget the good times, but maybe we realize we need different things, things that we can’t get from each other anymore.” Have you every “outgrown” a friendship? Or has anyone “outgrown” you? How did it make you feel? 

7. Will gets in the whole mess because he didn’t like how Darryl was treat Eloy but Will has his own prejudices that he isn’t even aware. What are some examples? 

8. What did you think about the “Buck-a-Bug” fundraiser? Was Will able to successfully turn Entomophagy from a joke into a good cause? 

9. In the background of this story, is Will’s longing to be on the varsity wrestling team. Before his big match his coach says, “Take a breath… Whatever’s going on, it’ll still be there when you get off the matt.” Do you ever feel like you can escape into a hobby and let everything else go? 

10. Think about cultural differences around the world. Can you name some things that would be done every day somewhere else, that might see unusual here? And vic-versa, what might we do that other would look on as “different.”  

DIY Activity: Chromatography Butterfly 

Supplies Needed: white coffee filters (large size, not Kcups); non-permanent markers; cup of water; string; scissors; pipe cleaners optional. 

Directions: 

  1. Pick a marker (try with multiple marks on your second attempt and see what happens). 
  1. Take one coffee filter and spread it out on top of a piece of paper. Draw a circle in the flat middle of the filter. 
  1. Fold the coffee filter in half and then in half again. It will look somewhat like a cone.  
  1. Get a short glass of water and stick the filter in with just the tip of the cone touching the water. Fan out the rest so it balances in the cup.  
  1. Let sit and watch what happens as the filter sucks up the water.  
  1. Flatten it out and place on your paper or newspaper to dry.  
  1. Once dry, take your filter and scrunch it in the middle. Tie the middle with string or your pipe cleaner. If you are using the pipe cleaner, the ends can still out to look like antenna.  
  1. Hang the butterfly with string and watch them fly! 

The Science:  

“Chromatography… is the science of separating mixtures. Mikhail Tsvet discovered that since different color pigments have different weights, they are carried along at different speeds, and end up in different places. So one can use different substances (gas or liquid) to carry the color, and by examining where different tints end, figure out what pigments were combined to make it.” 
-(https://kidminds.org/chromatography-experiments-with-kids-5-ways/)

How’d it go:

We had a great group for book club this month! Some new faces and some really great discussion. We had a little trouble getting the hang of how far to dip our coffee filters into the water, but it was all part of trial and error. This was a good month!

That’s all for now!

-M-

What If a Fish

What If a Fish by Anika Fajardo is a juvenile fiction book for 4-6th graders.

“Little” Eddie Aguado is half-Colombian but has never really connected with his Colombian side. When he was little, his Papa passed away and anything Colombian only seemed to sadden his mother. Because Eddie’s mother keeps her memories of Papa locked inside, his own memories of his father are hazy and vague. That’s why he’s determined to be just like his Papa by winning his local fishing tournament.

When Eddie’s half-brother’s Abuela gets sick, he puts his fishing plans on hold as he travels to Colombia for the summer. He thinks this is the perfect opportunity to embrace his heritage and learn more about his Papa. But becoming a true Colombiano, may be harder than it seems.

This was a nice little book. Thinking back on it now, there’s actually quite a lot to it. Themes of friendship and family, death and grief, bullying and sticking up for yourself and other, being responsible and more. Eddie is a really relatable character. He has insecurities and is trying to figure out who he is and his place in the world.

I love his relationships with both his half brother, Big Eddie, and his new friend, Cameron. Both relationships grow and go through their ups and downs. Each has a lesson and helps Eddie to grow in different ways.

A big part of this book, is dealing with grief. Eddie doesn’t remember his father, so his grief isn’t like his mother. Instead he is grieving for the lack of a father, rather than the man himself. His grief over Abuela is different from Big Eddie’s because he only just met her, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t sad.

There certainly is a lot going on in this book and this may hinder some young readers, but ultimately it was a good story with some valuable lessons. This one just sneaks in to the 3.5-4 star range.

That’s all for now

-M-

The Last Musketeer

The Last Musketeer by Stuart Gibbs is the first novel in a historical fiction series for juvenile readers.

While on a trip to Paris with his parents, fourteen-year-old Greg Rich’s parents disappear. Before his eyes, they vanish through a portrait and into the 1600s. And of course Greg follows.

And so begins a tale of the Three Musketeers before they became the legendary heroes of fiction. With the help of young Athos, Porthos and Aramis, Greg must save his parents, reveal a plot to overthrow the King, and stop the bad guy from changing history forever.

History isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and saving the day, is a lot harder… and smellier than it looks.

This was an easy, fast read. It has action and adventure, boys being boys and some interesting historical facts thrown in. It’s a Stuart Gibbs novel, you really can’t go wrong.

The Last Musketeer really makes me want to go back and read The Three Musketeers. I want to compare the characters here and the characters there and see how similar they are.

I can’t say that I was wowed by the book, but I do think it would be one my 4-6th book club would be interested in and have an easy time reading. Overall, this one gets a solid three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Maya and the Rising Dark

Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron is the first book in a new juvenile fantasy series about Orisha’s and their battle against the Dark.

Maya thinks she is just a normal twelve-year-old girl, until the day time freezes. No one seems to notice and she chalks it up to a bout of madness, that is until she sees werehyenas and is attacked by a shadow man, twice! As her friend try to come up with explanations for these weird occurrences, Maya keeps thinking about how similar these events are to her papa’s stories.

When papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a word of gods and goddesses and learns that she is actually a godling–half orisha/half human–and that her papa is the guardian of the veil. The veil is fading and now that papa is gone, it is only a matter of time before the Lord of Shadows breaks through and wages war against the human world.

Can Maya save her father and stop the Lord of Shadows before it is too late?

I enjoyed this book a lot. It has just the right amount of fantasy mixed with African mythology for me. Maya’s journey from everyday girl to future guardian of the veil, was fun to follow and the characters were interesting and diverse. I especially want to see more of the orisha’s and see what Maya’s future “training” will entail. I don’t know why, but I see some sort of school for orisha coming.

One thing that bothered me a little bit was the loose ends. There are a lot of questions that still need answering, but I can’t be too harsh being that it is the first book in a series. Maya is learning all of this as she goes and we, the reader, are learning it right alongside her.

Overall, this was a fun read. Probably good for that 4-7 grade range. I’m going to give it the low end of 4 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Bridge of Souls

Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab is the third book in the Cassidy Blake series for juvenile readers.

As Cassidy Blake continues to follow her parents as then traverse haunted cities for their TV show, she thinks she’s finally getting the hang of her ghost hunting abilities. That is, until something other than ghosts begin hunting her.

Along with fellow ghost hunter, Lara, and dead best friend, Jacob, Cassidy will race through the streets and graveyards of New Orleans with only one goal in mind–don’t die.

Death is coming for Cassidy Blake and this time, there may be no way out.

This is just a fun series. The ghost elements aren’t all that scary but there are a few suspenseful moments here and there. The friendships are real and only growing stronger. But it’s the setting of the books that really make this series shine.

I just love visiting each of these well known cities and getting to see another, haunted, side to them. In the last book it was amazing to learn about all the forgotten catacombs of Paris and listen to the tales and legends, mixed with history. And the same is true of this book. We learn so much about New Orleans and it’s haunted history, that it makes you really want to visit… or at the very least know more. I just love when a book makes me what to go beyond the book to find out more.

This was also a pivotal book for Jacob and Cassidy’s relationship, which was strained in the previous book. I wouldn’t say there was a resolution by the end, but more like a satisfying stay of execution.

I don’t know if we will be getting any more of Cassidy Blake, but I hope we do. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-