Burt the Beetle Doesn't Bite! (Burt the Beetle)

by Ashley Spires (Author) Ashley Spires (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Burt the Beetle

Ashley Spires brings her signature deadpan humor to this hilarious story about one bug's quest for greatness (with some cool insect facts mixed in!).

Meet Burt, a ten-lined june beetle. He's sure he belongs in the category of bugs with superpower-like abilities. No, he can't carry 50 times his weight, like ants. No, he's not able to spray paralyzing venom, like some termites. No, he can't release a bad smell to repel predators, like stink bugs. What june beetles are known for is chasing porch lights and flailing their legs in the air --- does that count? Hmm ... Maybe Burt will just have to accept the truth. June beetles don't have any special abilities. But when some other bugs find themselves in perilous trouble that even their superpowers can't get them out of, Burt suddenly realizes there is one thing that he can do to save his friends --- and it's something that only a june beetle can do!

Bestselling author-illustrator Ashley Spires's signature mix of slapstick and dry humor is front and center in this winning story that highlights how being special is as much about character as it is about abilities. Full of simply drawn panels prominently featuring the ever-plucky Burt, it's a perfect pick for emerging readers and young fans of comics. Burt's positive attitude toward himself and others offers many opportunities for character education lessons on caring, positive thinking and initiative. Snuck into the pages are facts about bugs and their traits, making this a fun choice for a science unit on the characteristics of living things.

Kirkus Reviews

Proof that courage and loyalty are superpowers too…even for species that can’t emit ultrasonic blasts.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3--Insect facts, humor, and a wise-cracking beetle come together in this graphic novel. Captioned panels introduce a handful of remarkable insects. Burt the Beetle observes and wishes that he had special abilities of his own. After watching a stink bug in action, he comments: "Wow! Super gross. But also super cool." Burt can't do much more than fly or crawl. Illustrations show him losing a race to a snail, crashing when he attempts to fly, and repeatedly winding up on his back and asking, "Little help?" When his more talented friends all end up caught in a spider's web, however, Burt uses his sticky legs to hug the spider, preventing the predator from eating his pals, and then takes the web apart by crashing into it with his heavy body. Humorous cartoon artwork and effective panel layouts contribute greatly to the humorous tone. Burt's subtly varied facial expressions are endearing. Though Spires combines information, such as the strength of ants, with fictional elements, the lighthearted tone makes it all work without being too confusing to young readers. VERDICT An engaging fact and fiction mix with an appealing beetle protagonist. As with Doreen Cronin's "Diary" books and Elise Gravel's "Disgusting Critters" series, most young readers will have no trouble digesting the facts while also enjoying the humor and the story.--Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville P.L., OR

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Beginning readers are in for a treat with this silly offering, which immediately brings to mind Elise Gravel's Disgusting Critters series.—Booklist
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
June 20, 2021
Burt the Beetle
Texas 2x2 Reading List
Selection 2022
Little Maverick Reading List
Selection 2022

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