cover image Cockroach Cooties

Cockroach Cooties

Laurence Yep. Hyperion Books, $15.99 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0487-0

""There are two kinds of people in this world--the bullies and the victims,"" Teddy tells his younger brother, Bobby; the two have just incurred the wrath of their schoolmate Arnie, better known as Arnie-zilla. ""Guess which bunch we belong to?"" However, the boys inadvertently discover that the bully is afraid of cockroaches, and the tables turn. Bobby promptly adopts a critter, which he names Hercules, and introduces Teddy to their eccentric neighbor, the Bug Lady, with whom Bobby has long shared a passion for all things creepy-crawly. Brains win out over brawn as Bobby uses cookies with a mystery ingredient to trick Arnie into a peace treaty--and compassion wins out over vengeance, as the brothers discover that Arnie is more to be pitied than feared. Full of the sights and sounds of San Francisco's Chinatown, the tale zips along at a brisk pace, percolating with snappy dialogue. A seasoned craftsman, Yep (Dragonwings; The Imp Who Ate My Homework) effortlessly shoehorns in fun facts about insects (""Did you know that cockroaches have two brains?"" Bobby asks the hapless Arnie as he pursues him with Hercules). An altogether chipper outing. Ages 9-12. (Mar.)