Freda and the Blue Beetle

Sophie Gilmore. OwlKids, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-77147-381-1
Dark-haired Freda lives alone in a community of farmers and shepherds who are full of gloomy predictions. She ignores them, finding “that not listening... often led to wonderful discoveries”—Gilmore paints Freda cavorting with walruses in the local bay. Then she happens upon a periwinkle-blue beetle. “It’ll bite your toes while you sleep,” the townsfolk warn; Freda takes him home and names him Ernest. He grows quickly and proves a capable laborer, able to do almost anything—but he keeps eating, and sometimes consuming food that isn’t his, infuriating the townsfolk. In the story’s darkest moment, remorseful Freda abandons Ernest in the forest before justice eventually triumphs. Gilmore’s lilting storybook prose (“she took a measured breath, and whispered to the wind”) is paired with earth-toned paintings that enliven the small village, its inhabitants, and Ernest’s marvelous deeds (in one moment, he watches over sheep by night). Gilmore’s (Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast) fantasy is both startling and believable as Freda and her faithful companion stand fast against the small-minded elders who threaten them: “Sometimes we should only listen to ourselves.” Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 02/06/2020
Release date: 04/01/2020
Genre: Children's
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