Stephen and the Beetle

Stephen and the Beetle

by Jorge Elias Lujan, Chiara Carrer
     
 

When Stephen spots a beetle he takes off his shoe and raises his arm, ready to strike… but then he has second thoughts. He lays his head down on the ground and the beetle walks right up to him. At the last moment the beetle turns aside and each can go on with the day, having avoided the worst.

In this very simple story Jorge Luján presents the kind of

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Overview

When Stephen spots a beetle he takes off his shoe and raises his arm, ready to strike… but then he has second thoughts. He lays his head down on the ground and the beetle walks right up to him. At the last moment the beetle turns aside and each can go on with the day, having avoided the worst.

In this very simple story Jorge Luján presents the kind of deep moral questions that can occur even in the smallest child’s day. Chiara Carrer’s very original etched and painted illustrations perfectly complement the story, and are in and of themselves beautiful works of art.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A small backyard encounter becomes the basis for big questions in this striking lesson in compassion. When Stephen sees a horned beetle behind his house, he doesn’t hesitate: “He took off his shoe and raised his arm.” Carrer’s naïf mixed-media illustrations show the boy, drawn in ink-scrawled outline, holding the shoe over his head, a giant stonelike oval hanging off its edge, as if to emphasize the shoe’s transformation into a deadly weapon. Before Stephen does the deed, “suddenly a thought came into his head. Where was the beetle going, anyway?” It’s a turning point, and the more consideration Stephen gives the beetle, the larger and more detailed Carrer (Otto Carrotto) draws it. She highlights its strangeness in scenes that culminate in a frightening black-and-yellow portrait of the beetle that looks like it’s about to attack. It doesn’t, though, and simply continues on its way, as does Stephen. With haunting lines like “The beetle went on about its business. It had no idea what was about to happen,” Luján (Doggy Slippers) hints that, to some larger, greater forces, human lives may be similarly insignificant. Ages 2�5. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

A 2012 New York Times Best Illustrated Book

"This simple yet powerful life-or-death drama between the boy and the beetle is vividly captured in Carrer’s striking, highly original acrylic, ink pencil, oil pastel and collage illustrations. Using naive outlines, Expressionistic color washes, open spaces and constantly changing perspectives, she creates tension between the aggressive boy and the passive beetle." —Kirkus, starred review

Praise for Colors! ¡Colores!:
"The imagery in both words and pictures is often richly original . . . A lovely book to share, reflect upon and linger over.” — Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Rosa Roberts
What do little boys do as soon as they see a bug in a garden? Depending on their disposition, either they will play with it, examine it out of curiosity, or squish it for the mere sake of seeing its aftermath. In this picture book, Stephen spots the beetle in the garden and after some hesitation decides killing it with his shoe is not an option. This is where readers follow Stephen to discover what he will do will do with this beetle. Readers go with Stephen as he contemplates where the bug is heading and what its mission is in the garden. Upon closer examination, Stephen's imagination sees the beetle as resembling a Cretaceous period animal about to attack. After his imaginary observation, Stephen sees the beetle crawl away to a corner in the garden. The day in the life of Stephen and the beetle goes uninterrupted as each has its mission of getting somewhere that day fulfilled. Young readers will be able to reflect that the day's events would have been drastically different if Stephen had killed the beetle with his shoe. The illustrations are rudimentary but capture the young boy's observation in the garden. After all, where else would one see a bug but a garden? Reviewer: Rosa Roberts
School Library Journal
Gr 1�2—The illustrations in this book introduce a few moments in time through a series of images done in a variety of mediums-acrylic, ink, pencil, oil pastel, and collage-in a basic palette of gray, black, and yellow. Readers first see Stephen from afar as he enters his garden and notices a rhinoceros beetle, encircled by a mysterious reddish haze that follows it throughout the book. His first instinct is to raise a shoe and clobber the bug, but then he pauses and stretches out on the ground to watch it eye to eye. Page after page, with a range of perspectives, the insect is shown as it makes its way past the boy's sock-clad foot, growing larger and then enormous in Stephen's eyes as he imagines it as "a terrible triceratops that lifted its glistening horns, [and] waved its huge hoofs in the air." Art that presents the beetle with the fascination and imagination of a young child completes the journey with a haze of green lines, a curtain of grass as the beetle makes its way to the "furthest corner of the garden." A simple story enhanced by a brief, thoughtful text with a sophisticated presentation, this book would be most effective as a suspenseful read-aloud, to continue discussion after the reading, spur a bit of beetle research, and encourage readers to see beyond its neutral cover.—Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX
Kirkus Reviews
A small boy's response to a beetle in the garden triggers profound moral questions in this arresting visual tour de force. When Stephen spies a wee beetle in his garden, he instinctively removes his shoe and raises his arm to crush it. Oblivious to its impending demise, the beetle goes "on about its business." Then Stephen pauses and wonders where the beetle is going and what it is doing. He muses, "If I drop my shoe…the day will go on just the same, except for one small thing." Instead of killing the beetle, Stephen lays his head on the ground and observes it. Up close, the beetle resembles a "terrible triceratops" poised for attack. Then the beetle seems to remember something and walks off. This simple yet powerful life-or-death drama between the boy and the beetle is vividly captured in Carrer's striking, highly original acrylic, ink pencil, oil pastel and collage illustrations. Using naive outlines, Expressionistic color washes, open spaces and constantly changing perspectives, she creates tension between the aggressive boy and the passive beetle. Initially Stephen dominates the page, but following the existential moment of choice when he realizes the consequences of his intended action, the beetle becomes the visual focus, eventually assuming gargantuan proportions during their eye-to-eye standoff. A memorable lesson in mindfulness. (Picture book. 2-5)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781554981922
Publisher:
Groundwood Books
Publication date:
07/24/2012
Pages:
36
Product dimensions:
7.80(w) x 11.40(h) x 0.20(d)
Lexile:
AD780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
2 - 5 Years

Meet the Author


Jorge Luján is an author, poet, musician, and architect who has a gift for finding the very best illustrators from all over the world and collaborating with them to create exceptional children’s books. His very accessible poetry for children can be found in Con el sol en los ojos / With the Sun in My Eyes, illustrated by Morteza Zahedi, Doggy Slippers, illustrated by Isol, Colors! ¡Colores!, illustrated by Piet Grobler, and Rooster/Gallo, illustrated by Manuel Monroy. He has also written an ambitious retelling in verse of the myths in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Brunhilda and the Ring, illustrated by Linda Wolfsgruber. Luján has garnered many excellent reviews and awards for his work, including the Premio de Poesía para Niños de ALIJA (IBBY Argentina). His music for children can be found at www.myspace.com/jorgelujaninfantil and his website at www.jorgelujan.com. Born in Argentina, he now lives in Mexico City.

Chiara Carrer is one of Italy’s best-known children’s book illustrators. She has been creating children’s books for more than twenty years, with more than one hundred titles to her credit. Carrer has won many major awards, including the UNICEF Prize, the Austrian Kinder und Jugendbuchpreis, the BolognaRagazzi New Horizons (Special Mention) and the Golden Apple at the Biennial of Illustration, Bratislava. She also teaches art and has exhibited her work in Europe, Japan, and Brazil. She lives in Rome.

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