Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Non-Fiction Pick: Wicked Bugs: the Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects

Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects
by Amy Stewart
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
272 pages with index and bibliography

Sinisterly intriguing, wildly interesting, dangerously entertaining, Wicked Bugs will bother you after you turn off the lights at night. You may wonder, is that just a harmless itch? or do we have bed bugs? Or, you may not want to travel to other countries after reading about their strange and dangerous bugs.

Wickedly entertaining, this plethora of entomological information will delight fans of non-fiction who love a quick read rife with interesting facts and historical anecdotes.

Stewart warns us that she is neither a scientist nor an entomologist; that this little book is not a field guide or a reference book for the medical field. She informs the reader that she is "a writer who is fascinated with the natural world." In my opinion, she's much more than that; she is an entertainer, a creative writer, and a great storyteller.

The book is divided into categories: horrible bugs, painful bugs, deadly bugs, dangerous bugs, and destructive bugs. Stewart writes, "It is estimated that there are ten quintillion insects alive on the planet right now, which means that for each one of us, there are two hundred million of them." That fact alone should make readers want to read more about these fantastic creatures that are taking over our world.

Did you know that the black widow only bites when it feels trapped? In the golden, olden days of outdoor plumbling (outhouses) many a person found out about their painful bite in a rather sensitive place. As a person would sit down to "do his business," he would inadvertently block the seat off and any spider hiding under it would feel trapped. The spider would bite the human where it hurts the most!

For those non-fiction readers, those reluctant readers, those teen readers who hate novels, Amy Stewart continues to deliver fantastic compendiums that appeal to their tastes. Her earlier book, Wicked Plants is reviewed here.

Highly, highly recommended for readers grades 6 and up. Recommended for all non-fiction collections. Grade 4 and 5 advanced readers should have no trouble reading and comprehending the content.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


  1. My students have all been asking for this book. After reading the review I know they will love it!

    Rochester, NY

  2. I'm sure the kids will love it. I'm also sure I will love it and then regret it. I hate bugs. Still panic about mites after watching a film on them at least 40 years ago. ICK!
    The book sounds awesome and our kids will love it.

    Yorba Londa Middle School
    Yorba Linda, CA

  3. The kids @ my HS will love this. Great for reluctant readers.

    Brian Johnson LMS
    Heritage HS
    1114 south fifth
    Rogers,AR. 72756


  4. Sounds interesting and entertaining!

    Cindy Rasmussen
    Hammond Elementary
    Salem, OR 97305


  5. Our kids here in Hilo would love this book! thanks for the chance to win one! :o)

    Sara Kamibayashi
    Hilo Public Library
    300 Waianuenue Ave.
    Hilo, HI 96720


  6. Wow! I've got readers who would love this book!
    Teacher Librarian, Burlington, VT

  7. Looks great. Thanks for the opportunity!

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  9. I can see how this would keep the interest of middle school age kids. They always love to share stories such as these...
    Muskegon, MI

  10. Revised comment:
    I know this will "fit the bill" for at least three of our classes.
    Charleston, WV

  11. I am sorry if this post is a duplicate. It said it accepted my post but then I could not find it. I would love to have this gross book in my high school library! LOL

    Lisa Hicks
    District Librarian
    Gunter, Texas

  12. I think this book will be a great addition to my library!

    Maureen Squier
    Librarian, Jr-Sr. High School
    New Lebanon, NY 12125

  13. The kids in my library would love this. They cant get enough of creepy crawlies!

    Katy Charles-School Librarian
    Virgil Elementary School
    1208 Church Street
    Cortland, NY 13045


  14. Too cool!! Thanks for the opportunity!

    Mebane, NC

  15. Sounds terrific, we'd love to be a book recipient.
    Lois Schwert
    Wauzeka-Steuben Public School Library
    301 Main St.
    Wauzeka, WI 53826

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  17. This book sounds like something the students would love to read! I might be fascinated myself. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

    Astoria, NY