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Author: Leonard, M. G.
Darkus Cuttle has taken care of his father ever since his mother died, but one day his father vanished from a locked vault at the Natural History Museum, and now he lives with his eccentric uncle--but one day he finds a large and unusually intelligent and self-aware beetle, and soon he and his two friends are caught up in a struggle to protect an intelligent super species of beetles.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.90
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 181366
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 67416
School Library Journal (00/01/16)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 01/01/2016 Darkus Cuttle, 13, has been told that his scientist father, still grief-stricken by his wife’s death five years earlier, has finally lost it and run away. Darkus knows this is not true, but the police won’t listen. He is sent to live with his bachelor uncle, Max, and the two hatch a plan to find Darkus’ missing dad. Along the way, they run afoul of Madame Cutter, a former geneticist turned fashion magnate, who harbors an unhealthy interest in beetles, and two bumbling neighbors, who happen to be housing a beetle infestation. And these are no ordinary beetles, but highly advanced insects who can understand human speech and develop doglike attachments to Darkus and his friends. With plucky kids, an over-the-top maniacal villain, and the obligatory dead mother, this debut fantasy has a traditional feel despite the modern-day setting. The danger, while frequently imminent, is not frightening. Darkus’ loneliness is quickly alleviated as newfound friends rally to his side. Fans of madcap adventures and anthropomorphised sidekicks will enjoy this fast-paced series opener. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 01/01/2016 Gr 5–8—An engaging story aimed at upper middle grade readers who enjoy mysteries but who might not be ready for more mature young adult plotlines. When Dr. Bartholomew Cuttle, a renowned entomologist at the National History Museum in London, suddenly disappears from his research vault without a trace, no one is more surprised than his son, Darkus. The boy can't believe his father would just vanish and leave him alone in the world. During his first week at Uncle Max's flat (his father's brother, also a researcher, who returns from Egypt to care for Darkus), a rhinoceros beetle appears out of nowhere. And it's no ordinary beetle. Atypically large, it seems to have the uncanny ability to understand what Darkus says. Feeling an immediate connection to his father, Darkus adopts the beetle, names him Baxter, and vows to find his father. Along with his new friends Virginia and Bertolt, Darkus discovers even more interesting beetles in the next-door neighbor's flat inhabited by warring cousins Pickering and Humphrey. When another famous researcher, Lucretia Cutter, discovers the beetles and wants to buy all of them (think Cruella de Vil), the sharp-minded threesome ponder the connection to Darkus's father and develop a plan to save the beetles and find Dr. Cuttle. The story moves quickly, and the characters are both wacky and entertaining. VERDICT Educators looking for fiction that connects to and supports science curricula may find a new favorite in this.—Anne Jung-Mathews, Plymouth State University, NH - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.