Karen Tyrrell, The Battle of Bug World (Song Bird #2), Digital Futures Press, 24 June 2017, 180pp., $14.95 (pbk), ISBN: 9780994302182
I really like the premise of this book. Rosie, the superhero Song Bird, has lost her voice which is the source of her power. Cataclysmic events, like tornadoes and giant sinkholes, are threatening the neighbourhood. All the bees have mysteriously disappeared, and a massive food shortage could be the result. And worst of all, Rosie’s sister, Raven, has disappeared. What’s a silenced Song Bird to do?
Rosie has to summon up all her courage, round up her friends, and work out just what is going on, and whether her nasty neighbour, Frank, is behind these dire events.
The Battle of Bug World certainly packs in the adventure. Things happen non-stop in Rosie’s world, but I wouldn’t advise reading this book without reading book one first. Readers are thrown straight into the action, and little context or background is given if you are new to the series. I assume that book one explains how Rosie loses her voice, who Frank is, and what the heck is going on. I eventually settled into Rosie’s world, but it was a little disconcerting at first.
There is also a very vivid chapter (which I believe was guest-written) describing Rosie experiencing life as a rosella. I loved the description and detail, and the strong sense of birdness about it, but it steps out of the main story, and it would have helped to know that it was a dream earlier.
Karen Tyrrell throws an exciting array of events at her superhero, and it is fun to watch Rosie find her courage in the bug world and gain power she didn’t know she had. It’s also terrific to watch her friends band together to help her, standing up to Frank’s meanness and solving problems together. I think one of my favourite things in The Battle of Bug World, though, is Amy’s supersonic wheelchair, which she has kitted out with all sorts of cool features and gadgets. From the dynamic-balance setting, to the force-field which zaps any bugs that get too close, Amy’s wheelchair is awesome.
The key focus of the story, however, is the serious imbalance happening in the natural world. Particularly, the fact that all the bees have gone missing. Karen Tyrrell works the implications of this into the adventure, from Rosie’s observations that her fruit trees are showing no signs of fruit, to the larger food shortage problems that will result if there are no bees to pollinate the crops. The missing bees even impact on Rosie’s superpowers – how can she get her voice back if there is no honey left to sooth her throat? And in the course of Rosie’s search for her sister, she meets and learns to communicate with the super Queen Bee.
Setting aside a couple of issues I have with the cavalier attitude all the adults seem to have to their duty of care (honestly, who would return a child home in the middle of a super-storm without checking that they’d at least got inside safely??), this was an interesting and fast-paced adventure that takes ecological issues and turns them into an engaging story that should appeal to young eco-warriors aged 8 to 12.
Reviewed by Emily Clarke