cover image The Big Bug Ball

The Big Bug Ball

Dee Lillegard. Putnam Publishing Group, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23121-6

In a city park, in the shadow of tulips and blades of grass, preparations for a glamorous party are under way. Ants and dragonflies construct a ballroom floor out of playing cards and movie-candy boxes, saving the jujubes for the buffet table. As night falls, a top-hatted grasshopper invites everyone to participate: ""Don't hang from the ceiling./ Don't crawl up the wall./ Dance, dance, dance./ It's the Big Bug Ball."" Six-legged couples twirl across the floor, lit (how else?) by fireflies. A smarmy cockroach stands poised to pounce on the smorgasbord, despite the aristocratic grasshopper's disapproval (""Cockroach, cockroach,/ don't eat all the food./ Termite, do not eat the table./ It's so rude!""). A sow bug shyly rolls into a pill at the thought of boogying, but the bug of her dreams coaxes her out of her shell. Lillegard's (The Poombah of Badoombah) rhyming text highlights the sow bug's romantic interlude, while Barron's (who teamed with the author for The Wild Bunch) detailed illustrations develop the narrative with subplots featuring other quirky personalities: the cockroach, dressed in a white disco suit, strikes a Saturday Night Fever pose; a cricket clad in overalls saws the fiddle; a centipede plays piano by running along the keys. Thanks to the variety of lively attendees, the evening--like the volume itself--is a success. Ages 4-8. (May)