Review Detail

Kids Fiction 4911
Ride on a scorpion!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
Max loves insects of all kinds, and his bedroom is festooned with a spider clock, rubber bugs, and a couple of real walking stick insects. When his mother gets him an old copy of The Complete Encyclopedia of Arthropods, which even comes with a magnifying glass in a pocket, he's thrilled. Delving into the book, he notices a map with Lizard Island and Bug Island. When he looks more closely with the magnifying glass, he gets a tingly feeling and finds himself on Bug Island. He meets Spike, a scorpion who is going to take him back to Barton, the leader of the bugs, and Max is worried that Spike will eat him or sting him. When he helps Spike defend himself from a lizard, using his knowledge of the lizard's weakest point, Spike is impressed. Barton is, too, especially since a volcano has created a bridge between the two islands, and General Komodo and his lizard army are attacking the bugs. Max assesses the situation, and using his knowledge of the capabilities of each bug, comes up with a plan to evacuate when it's clear that the bugs can't defeat the lizards.
Good Points
The world building in The Lizard War is great-- even though Max sees bugs from all over his world, they are all in one place because they are part of an army. The artifice of using the magnifying glass to travel to a different world is a good one, since it is simple, effective, and works both ways. It's especially charming that the bugs help Max figure out how to get home.

The best part of the story is how seamlessly the facts about bugs are woven into the action and described just enough. Readers who are enthralled with bugs will want to read this with a reference book by their side so they can look at pictures of the real bugs and find out if bombardier beetles really DO shoot acid out of their bottoms!

Beginning readers who like a lot of action combined with science facts will find themselves wishing for their own magical magnifying glass so that they, like Max, can ride on a scorpion and fist bump an emperor beetle.
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