Review by Frank Plowright
The Bug Club is straddles the line between comics and plain children’s book, educating about different types of insects. Elise Gravel generally follows the pattern of a single page of explanation about an insect, topped with a bespoke logo, with an illustration and joke caption, and it’s her individuality and enthusiasm that raises The Bug Club above what it might have been.
As seen from the sample page, the drawings are simple and impressionistic rather than striving for biological accuracy, Gravel supplying personality for children who might otherwise have an instinctive fear of insects. The sample page is her stink bug, which expels a noxious smell as a protective mechanism, and facts shared about the assorted insects are fascinating and of a type that will surprise adults as well as children. Gravel also personalises the text, sharing her own experiences and reactions, noting that the preying mantis is the only insect able to turn its head, and the first time she saw one do that she screamed and ran away. The entire project is given a more homely look via Gravel writing the text instead of having it typeset.
Before reaching the pages about individual insects, Gravel supplies more general information about life cycles, and different types of wings or antennae, and a few pages in between offer dioramas detailing life underground or the inside of a snail. More fascinating facts follow, and the closing pages offer imaginary insects and projects involving insects.
The information is sorted into easily consumed small packages for younger readers, and there can surely be no more fun way for an adult to share the joy of discovery with their child.