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Book cover of Impetuous R., Secret Agent

Impetuous R., Secret Agent

by Jane Leslie Conly, Bonnie Leick

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
ISBN: 9781423104186

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Synopsis of Impetuous R., Secret Agent

Impetuous (Impy) Roach and his pals Shiny and Demo are pests. Or so the humans would have you think. They're young roaches, after all. The adult roaches don't seem to care much about their contributions either—at least not in important matters that concern the fate of their colony. But Pop's Diner, the roaches' only home for generations, is in danger of being shut down because of financial burdens, and Impy, Shiny, and Demo can't help but butt in. It's a good thing they do. The meddling of this tiny, pesky crew may just save the day in the end.

Children's Literature

This deliciously funny book features three engaging cockroach nymphs (yes, those little bugs that every one hates, including characters in the novel) who join with their complex roach community to save Pops's Baltimore jazz club, which just happens to be their home. And a perfect roach home it is since music clubs don't have health inspections, but do have plenty of bits of food, particularly snack food, dispersed on the floor! The team of three, Shiny, Impy and Demosthenes Roach, shade into very human personalities, full of dreams and plans. They deliberately, in the way of all children, break the rules in favor of getting things done, and then suffer the consequences. Impy ends up tending the younger nymphs in the nursery and discovers that when he finally embraces the role, he loves storytelling and the youngest roaches love him. Silent Demosthenes rides herd on the elder Doz-en, a former adventurer who meditates on past adventures and drifts off at moments. What a gift for naming characters Ms. Conly has: Doz-en is a lovely mix of sleepiness and Asian calm. Shiny, AKA Shinola Banan, Miss Adventure, escapes to the outside world, is almost sucked into a vacuum cleaner by a hysterical Mom, and makes a human friend, Bitty, Pops's angelic-looking, but dangerously excitable, granddaughter. Needless to say, Impy's brilliant idea of contacting his radical activist, and itinerant, father to ask for help for Pops's club, through the transient roach messenger service, bears fruit. Thousands of dollars roll in from various roach nonprofit organizations, which sell their brilliant creations, such as Beethoven's Fifth and the theory of relativity, to the human world, then invest the proceeds. Ina parallel sequence, Troy, Pops's grandson, discovers the threat of foreclosure, finds suggestive traces of someone else (those roaches, they are everywhere!) working to save the club, and follows his own path to bring together numerous former performers and the community in a benefit effort. The club is saved, and readers can enjoy a rollicking read as well as learn some important life lessons if they listen to the subtext. The exciting story and wonderfully developed characters, both human and insect, are enhanced by the terrific illustrations, drawn from the roach point of view Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg

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