cover image LOCUST POCUS! A Book to Bug You

LOCUST POCUS! A Book to Bug You

Douglas Kaine McKelvey, , illus. by Richard Egielski. . Philomel, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23452-1

McKelvey (The Angel Knew Papa and the Dog) waxes eloquent on things that crawl, flutter and buzz in this compendium, fittingly illustrated by Egielski (Jazper; The Web Files). One concise sentence, densely packed with double entendres, alliteration and metaphors, summarizes each bug. The results are lyrical but not too pretty, and the close-up pictures gleefully accentuate the gross. Some images present unsuspecting victims, as in the boy who takes a heaping spoonful of roach-infested cereal ("Roaches roam/ among the dishes,/ inconspicuous/ [be suspicious!]"), and the sleeping girl who accommodates a bloodsucker ("Mosquitoes dine on/ old and young—/ vampire bugs/ with straws for tongues!"). Other watercolor paintings show unsmiling, zombiefied children looking dumbstruck with horror. One dismayed boy wears woolens ventilated by holes ("Musty moths munch/ winter clothing,/ not disarming,/ but disrobing"), and a startled farm kid spies the title critter among green, gnawed stumps ("Locust pocus/ on the crocus,/ strip the crops/ and do provoke us"). Egielski's malicious, carnival-colorful illustrations put the sting in McKelvey's skillful serenades. Ages 3-7. (June)