Bug Girl: Fury on the Dance Floor is Benjamin Harper's and Sarah Hines Stephen’s buzz-worthy, hilarious superhero sequel to the original middle-grade novel Bug Girland it’s packed with illustrations and real bug facts.
Being a superhero isn’t easy. But surviving a middle school dance? That’s when things get really hard…
Amanda Price never dreamed she’d turn into Bug Girl, a hero with the powers of the insect kingdom. She also never dreamed it would be this difficult.
Turns out superpowers aren’t much help with Geri, the new bully terrorizing the seventh grade. Or with Emily. She’s supposed to be Amanda’s partner in crime-fighting, but she’s too busy freaking out about the upcoming dance.
When a mystery monster appears in town and seventh graders start disappearing, Bug Girl needs Emily's help more than ever. Soon both girls are tangled in a dastardly schemeand the fate of their school, their town, and their very lives will be decided on the dance floor.
An Imprint Book
Praise for Bug Girl: Fury on the Dance Floor:
"Told in the third person primarily from Amanda's perspective, the hijinks and variety of comical ne'er-do-wells combine to make a case that envy may be the most venomous evil of all. This entomological adventure celebrates teamwork and girl power." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Benjamin Harper was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida where he spent his time obsessing over insects, dinosaurs, space travel, and kaiju attacks. He went to Warren Wilson College in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina and then moved to New York where he started working in children’s publishing. He’s been involved in children’s books ever since, as both an editor and author. Currently, he lives in Los Angeles, California where he works on super hero stories and lives with his cat Edith Bouvier Beale, III. Benjamin is the co-author of the Bug Girl series and Obsessed with Star Wars.
Sarah Hines Stephens has been a children’s book reader, editor, seller, buyer, doctor, author, copyeditor, ghostwriter, and speaker for many yearsand she is still most of those things. She makes her home in Oakland, California where she lives with her husband, two kids, and two dogs. When she is not doing book related things, Sarah enjoys cooking and eating and gardening and traveling. And she’s pretty good at them. Sarah is not a good dancer, but she does that anyway. Sarah is the co-author of the Bug Girl series, including Bug Girl: Fury on the Dance Floor.
Read an Excerpt
Amanda Price stepped up to the ledge of Oyster Cove's tallest building, the TransMutual credit union, and peered down. Twelve stories below, Emily Battfield, Amanda's ex-best friend, stood with her slender arms outstretched and a bored expression on her face. Amanda shuddered. This trust fall was going to be an absolute disaster.
Standing on the ground, Emily looked more likely to catch a cold than she was to catch her former-friend-turned-hero-partner. But Amanda's grandfather, Poppy, was insistent that "trust" was the next phase of the girls' superduo training.
"Turn around and drop!" Poppy shouted up to Amanda.
Easy for him to say, Amanda thought, though she knew he was trying to be encouraging. She took a deep breath and imagined fusilli, picturing the corkscrew noodles in her mind. Thinking about pasta to take her mind off of her fear was one of the first wacky tips Poppy had given her after her bug powers had begun to emerge. Her grandfather's instruction to focus on noodles in the face of fear had seemed totally random, but when she tried it, Amanda realized it really did distract her just enough to calm down and keep her insectile powers at bay. And Poppy had made very clear that for this exercise she was not to use her wings, or übercool exoskeleton, or any of the other powers that transformed the mild-mannered seventh grader into her amazing alter ego, Bug Girl. So she had to stay calm. And to do that, she had to think of pasta.
Poppy's little trust fall was intended to encourage bonding, team building, and, duh, trust. Amanda was supposed to trust Emily to keep her from splattering like a grasshopper on the windshield of a speeding car. The girls had been on a fairly relentless course of training all summer (superhuman burpees, flaming car tosses, cow lifting, Herculean parkour, and — Frida's favorite — Lunges Around the World) and were now keeping a twice-weekly schedule. Their trainers included Poppy; their famous supermoms Dragonfly and Megawoman; and the infamous revolutionary-in-exile, Marvella Corazon, better known in Oyster Cove as Frida, the Battfields' home assistant.
The instruction had been going surprisingly well ... until the start of school changed things. Now Bug Girl was feeling less sure of her "partner" than ever before.
It was like something got twisted when the bell rang that first day. The moment Emily set her size-six foot back inside the halls of Oyster Cove Middle School, she started acting weird — or, well, like the old Emily. It was as if that stupid bell had erased everything that happened at the end of last year; as if saving their mothers and defeating The Exterminator and going through all the relentless training meant nothing to Emily. She hadn't even bothered coming up with a superhero name for herself yet.
"Quit yer lollygagging and drop!" Poppy shouted.
Amanda glanced down at Emily once more, who looked bored and completely uninterested in preventing Amanda's head from cracking like a melon on the pavement. Drawing a deep breath, Amanda let herself fall. She hurtled toward the ground, picking up speed. She braced for impact as best she could — fully expecting Emily to yank her arms away, step back from her catching position, and wail "Ewww" rather than have to touch her.
But, to Amanda's surprise, Emily did not move. Much. The ground raced to meet her, wind whistled in her ears, and then Amanda felt Emily's willowy arms beneath her. Her limbs were stronger than they looked. Though Emily's powers were still revealing themselves (and were more than a little unpredictable), she was ultrastrong, could shatter glass with her scream, and had the power to start an avalanche with the stomp of her feet. And she tapped into her powers most intensely when she got angry.
While Emily did manage to slow Amanda's plummeting descent, she also took pains to stretch her body as far from Amanda's as possible, as if she were catching a sack of vomit, or a filled diaper, or something else nobody wants to touch. As a result, both girls ended up on the ground with Amanda on the bottom. Of course.
"Thanks," Amanda grunted when Emily had rolled off of her and she could get air back into her lungs. Emily wasn't just stronger than she looked; she was heavier than she looked, too.
"What was I supposed to do? Let you fall?" Emily stood and brushed off her outfit, more concerned about dust than about Amanda, who was still struggling to breathe.
Emily turned and started walking toward the Airstream trailer Poppy had parked nearby. Amanda got to her feet and followed. The trailer was their mobile training unit. Amanda absolutely loved the camper's curved, shiny metal; it reminded her of her favorite isopods, armadillidiidae, which most people call roly-polies. She and her best friend (and fellow science enthusiast) Vincent Verbiglia had attached silver antennae to the front end of the trailer to enhance the resemblance. It was positively adorable.
"I'm starving!" Emily announced, banging open the door to the shiny rig.
Amanda followed Emily up the steps. Poppy was on her heels, looking at his watch and mumbling about something. Amanda's grandfather insisted that the girls replenish themselves with healthy snacks and lots of water at regular intervals — though he frequently forgot what those intervals were.
Amanda was especially glad for this time-out. She was hungry, too, and exhausted both physically and emotionally due to the insane number of lunges they'd done earlier and Emily's prickly-as-a-cactus demeanor. She needed a break — a long one — and she had a good idea about how to get it. She just had to get Poppy to make good on something he'd promised earlier in the day....
Although Poppy was pretty relentless about the girls' fitness, nutrition, and safety, there were other, quirkier aspects of his personality that Amanda was counting on.
1) Poppy was prone to distraction. Extremely prone.
2) Poppy loved to spin yarns. Long ones.
3) Poppy had been on the scene during Megawoman and Dragonfly's golden era. After all, he was Dragonfly's father and was in charge of the duo's wardrobe and accessories in addition to being a premier sidekick in the supercircuit. In his eighty-six years, Poppy had seen and done it all — or knew the people who had.
Amanda settled on a comfortable meditation pillow with a handful of edamame while Emily leaned on the edge of the folding table and picked at a small cupful of air-popped corn.
"Poppy, tell us about one of the really nasty baddies," Amanda said, putting a bright-green bean into her mouth.
"Hmmm. Now, let me think." Poppy rubbed the stubble on his chin. Amanda could practically see him reaching back into the cobwebbed recesses of his memory.
"Ah, yes!" he exclaimed, grasping a recollection. "How about I tell you the story of Petunia Bibblesworth? She was an angry one, she was. And you probably know her by her villainess name." He paused for dramatic effect. "Frustrasia!"
Poppy was corny as cereal flakes, but when they heard the name, both girls gasped. Frustrasia!
Besides being generally destructive and despicable, Frustrasia was also the subject of Amanda's all-time favorite episode of her mother's hit show, The Most Righteous Action Adventures of Dragonfly and Megawoman: Oyster Cove Defenders! The notorious foe's antics were scandalous, and she was best known for the time she nearly destroyed Oyster Cove's upscale fashion district. Young Amanda had reenacted the battle scene with her Frustrasia action figure so vigorously and so often that the doll's head had fallen clean off.
Amanda sat back. This story was gonna be good!
Poppy stood and began to pace the length of the training trailer. He waved his hands as he told Frustrasia's origin story and changed his voice for effect. He played all the parts.
"'I spent four frustrated hours getting this perm!'" Poppy shrieked in a scratchy falsetto, pretending to be the hairdo-challenged troublemaker. "'And just look at my hair! Look at it! It's not curly. It's not stylish. And I stink!'" Poppy wailed. He held his nose. He flailed his arms in false panic and bent close to the girls so they could inspect the "damage" to his traumatized tresses (though there were not many hairs left on the actor's head).
Emily, sitting not-too-close beside Amanda, was clearly as rapt as she was, though Amanda's popularity-driven counterpart would never admit it. The scowling blonde was scarcely breathing as she moved a single piece of popcorn, in superslow-mo, from her bowl to her mouth. Amanda wished she could grab her former friend's hand and squeeze it — that the two of them could share the excitement. She wished they could exchange wide-eyed looks and delight in the story together. But Emily kept a chilly distance and would not make eye contact. Amanda doubted they would ever be as close as they had been before middle school. Even though, now that they were partners in fighting crime, their relationship was more important than ever.
"That bad hairdo about did poor Petunia in," Poppy said, slapping his knee. "It chapped her hide so badly that some say it's what created the heat behind Frustrasia's first devastating Vexation Ray. She started blasting green misery beams out of her eyes hither and thither! Why, she fried the giant fiberglass cow on the roof of Dribble Burgers with a glance. And the screaming and complaining!" Poppy raised his voice in a simulated wail. "'I can't possibly show myself at Shawnda's bachelorette party with my hair looking like this, can I? It's ruined!'"
"Was it really that bad?" Emily asked, her voice a whisper, her skin pale.
Amanda bit her lower lip. Losing it over a 'do was not something she could really relate to. "It's just hair," she mumbled.
"Mandy, this was not just hair," Poppy said, shaking his head. "What remained on Petunia's head after the coiffure disaster was a calamity. Her once boring, dishwater locks looked like sticky spaghetti with no sauce — and they worked like Medusa's snakes. Everyone who gazed upon Frustrasia's head was rendered speechless, and most of them froze right where they were. After getting an eyeful of that horror, folks couldn't even move."
Poppy shook his head gravely. He stopped pacing. He took a wide stance and looked at the girls. "But does a bad hairdo give a disappointed debutante an excuse to break every bottle in Madam Cheffae's Perfume Parlour? No, it does not! The essence of Charcuterie Number Twelve lingered in the air for months after Frustrasia's terrible tantrum! Mon Dieu!" Poppy stomped his foot, shaking the trailer, then gazed out the window, his nostrils flaring at the olfactory memory. "It smelled like ... it smelled like bacon ... mixed with magnolia ... coated in clam juice ... steeped in vanilla ... wrapped in pickled herring and left to ripen in the sun. In fact, it reminded me a little of the time I traveled above the Arctic Circle to dig up a rare Nordic delicacy —"
"But, Poppy," Amanda interrupted. "How did they defeat her? Our moms, I mean. What did they do to put a stop to Frustrasia's awful rampage?"
"Oh! Well. Your mamas arrived on the scene lickety-split. They weren't having any of Frustrasia's codswallop! Megawoman could not look directly at Frustrasia for fear of being frozen, which meant she could not use her trademark withering stare to shut down the hairdo-challenged terror. Luckily, thanks to her groovy drago-mask and insecto-vision — a little something I cooked up in Paris with famous eyewear designer Giles Bardot — Dragonfly could look directly at Frustrasia.
"Mandy, your mama hovered like a helicopter. She kept her enhanced vision focused on the lady who was losing it, while down below — proving once and for all that an accessory is never just an accessory — Megawoman used her belt as a blindfold. In one swoop she made a bold fashion statement, protected her eyes, and freed her body up for the work that had to be done!"
Poppy stopped to chuckle at the memory. "Those gutsy gals worked together like peanut butter and jelly. Dragonfly shouted out instructions to her girl on the ground. And Megawoman answered the call.
"With only Dragonfly's voice to guide her, Megawoman threw herself in front of Frustrasia's blasts, blocking them to protect innocents. She hurled suit racks into the villainess's path to slow her assault. Finally she doused the desperate diva in the Prêt-à-Porter fountain, drenching her 'do and extinguishing her perilous powers. The battle ended then and there. But the chemicals that devastated Frustrasia's hair took a long-lasting toll on her mind. The poor woman was never the same."
"Wow." Amanda exhaled. It didn't matter that she knew the story inside and out. It amazed her every time.
"So what happened?" Emily asked. Amanda looked at her, questioning. "To her hair, I mean," Emily added, as if it were obvious.
Poppy chuckled. "It all fell out in the fountain. Frustrasia was bald for a bit and then, when her hair grew back, it was curly. Some say that's because your mothers scared her so bad."
"Wow," Amanda said again. She shook her head at the floor, dumbfounded. Dragonfly and Megawoman were a total team. They trusted each other. They looked out for each other. They worked in harmony, like ants and bees, anticipating each other's needs and always pitching in. She leveled her gaze so she was looking right at Emily, who was picking the unpopped kernels out of her popcorn bowl and dropping them on the ground for someone else to step on or clean up.
Amanda tried to silence her doubts. It was hard. She couldn't help but wonder, Will Emily and I ever be a great team?
It sure didn't seem likely.CHAPTER 2
Seventh grade. Yuck.
School had been in session at Oyster Cove Middle School for exactly one week, and Amanda's hope of rekindling her relationship with Emily had evaporated faster than boiling water over a Bunsen burner.
Amanda just didn't get it. She and Emily had totally teamed up to save the town — and their mothers — AND each other — from a sinister plot hatched by one of the world's most diabolical (and ancient) evil masterminds. They had worked together like partners and friends during the summer months. But now, back in school, there was an autumn chill in the air.
Emily reverted to her clique of superficial socialites on day one. Mikki Folders, Sadie Bimmins, Prissy Jo Feingold, Lorricent Grandy, and, of course, the ultranasty Calypso Jade flocked to her like moths to a porch light, and it seemed like that was going to be the norm for the rest of the year.
Amanda told herself that Emily really did have her reasons — if the two of them were suddenly besties again in public, eyebrows would be raised and curiosity piqued. They needed to keep it cool in order to protect their secret superhero identities.
And, truth be told, Amanda was happy to spend her school time with Vincent and other members of the Oyster Cove Entomological Society. The more withdrawn students sheltered one another from the daily onslaught of middle-school life as best they could. They were fun to hang around with. And Amanda loved talking with her supersmart friends about the most recent lessons in science and math.
But although it seemed like everyone had simply slipped back into the grueling-yet-familiar school year routine, Amanda sensed that something was amiss. The strange vibe had Amanda's sensors on mild alert. The tingling sensation in her forehead made it hard to concentrate on Mrs. Mellonnaizie's history lecture, which should have held Amanda rapt.
The tall, skinny teacher leaned on the edge of her desk as she told her class about Oyster Cove's legendary fermentation vats — the basins that bore the beginnings of the town's infamous sauerkraut and pickle industries. Amanda loved hearing about the local crock legends and their creator, Penelope Offalblog, aka the Pickle Princess.
Penelope was Oyster Cove royalty. She alone was responsible for the trend of locally jarred vegetables that put the town on the map. Even today, tourists flocked from all over to visit the now-defunct vats that looked like enormous stoneware troughs and stood proudly behind the Abel Goatslam Memorial Branch Library. The giant tubs had at one time been filled with a secret-recipe brine along with cabbage, cucumbers, and other vegetables, which fermented into batches of deliciously salty yet healthy treats.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Bug Girl"
Copyright © 2018 Sarah Hines Stephens and Benjamin Harper.
Excerpted by permission of Imprint.
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