Children’s Library Corner: Beetles, Lightly Toasted


Introducing our newest children/family literature expert:  Ruhama Kordatzky Bahr. Yes, she is related to me being my sister-in-law. Even so, she is one of the most creative children’s librarians I have ever met. Instead of doing a newly released children’s book review, she wanted to bring to your attention excellent reads that have been overlooked.   
Without further adieu, Ruhama.

This post contains affiliate links to books on Amazon. Family Fun Twin Cities receives a small commission on sales through our site.
Seeing good books languish on the library shelves makes me sad, so I’ve come up with a few pairings to get you to try some of these ‘older’ titles, triggering your memory with something that’s considered a classic. Today’s offering is:
If you loved How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell, then try Beetles, Lightly Toasted by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor!

Amazon link


The Summary

Andy is determined to win the essay contest that is held every year for the fifth grade class at his school. The topic is always a surprise, and this year is no surprise: the sponsor wants them to write about conservation. None of the fifth graders can believe it—how boring! They do, however, start thinking of some wacky ideas and begin to tackle their projects. Andy is stumped, until he realizes his approach could be about finding ways to make your budget stretch a little further. His solution? Find things in your yard that are edible and start supplementing them into your diet. This includes bugs, and Andy has a plan to secretly get his family, his class and even strangers to eat them!

The Project Ideas

Print out this list of essay topics, cut them into strips and place them in a bag. Grab one and get to work thinking outside of the box! Some may require more time than others.
  • Create a revolutionary flavor of ice cream.
  • List as many uses as you can for a bedsheet.
  • How could you make a birthday (all day long!) super special?
  • Design a Halloween costume scenario for your whole family.
  • You’ve been selected to go to Mars! What would you pack?
  • Come up with a new outdoor game.
  • Dream up some hybrid animals.
  • Develop a restaurant: what would you serve? What’s the name? How would you advertise?
  • Find your own ways to conserve! What is one thing you can change in your house or lifestyle to conserve?

The Food Ideas

Pick up a copy of Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld and select a few recipes to test on the family (I would start with one of the following: Macaroni and Cheese I, Burgers I, Pasta with Bolognese Sauce, Quesadillas or Pink Pancakes). Either work the recipe into your family’s meal plan or turn it into a guessing game. I have fond memories of my mom making tomato soup cake, but refusing to tell us about the soup! We loved that cake, perhaps because it was a bit of a mystery.

If you’d like to do a real taste test, do the baby food game often found at baby showers: remove the labels from several jars and then have everyone take a tiny taste, write down (or tell you) what they think it is and reveal the answers at the end of the test!

Resolve, as a family, to try one new food a month (or bimonthly). Discuss ways to work it into your regular meal routine. This could be as simple as everyone tries honeydew melon or whole wheat pasta.


The Lowdown

  • Title: Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Beetles, Lightly Toasted. NY: Atheneum, 1987.
  • Age level: 4th grade and up
  • All ages readaloud: yes
  • Series: no
Ruhama and her husband live in Wisconsin where she is active in the library community and has an online store called Stamp ‘N Stitch.

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