The Big Dreams of Small Creatures
Nancy Paulsen Books
Published October 4, 2022
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About The Big Dreams of Small Creatures
From Black-ish writer and director comes a whimsical and heartwarming tale where two unlikely allies band together to protect and defend the insect world from the worst enemy of all…humans.
Ten-year-old Eden’s quiet life is upended when she saves a paper wasp nest from destruction and discovers, to her awe and amazement, that she and its haughty queen can talk to each other. This first conversation is the start of a grand adventure, leading Eden to The Institute for Lower Learning, a secret laboratory devoted to the peaceful coexistence of humans and insects. The Institute is more fantastic and idyllic than Eden could’ve imagined but hidden deep within its tunnels is an old secret that could spell the end for all insects on earth.
Nine-year-old August, an aspiring actor and bullied fourth-grader, is looking for that very secret after a few disastrous encounters have left him wanting to squash every annoying bug into oblivion. After all insects are small—he is big. And if there is anything he’s learned from the bullies at school—it’s that being bigger is what counts.
But in the world of the Institute where insects have a place of their own, both Eden and August discover being bigger isn’t necessarily better and sometimes the most courageous thing to do is to set out to make a new friend.
There are a lot of cute things about this book. I really liked the concept. The story follows four characters. There’s August and Eden and their quests to destroy or save insects. There’s also Atom, an ant who wants to save his sister. And we follow the queen wasp who first communicated with Eden.
The story has a lot of goofy and silly moments in it. Lots of them are improbable at best, but I think that’s part of the story’s charm. It doesn’t seem like the author meant it to be realistic fiction, but more an imaginative dive into what a world where insects and people could communicate with one another.
I liked Eden’s character a lot, and I appreciated the humorous moments in the story. Maybe the trickiest thing about the book is that thematically, I think it would appeal to younger readers, maybe ages seven to nine? But the book is about 350 pages, which I think is probably too much for a lot of readers that age.
All in all, this was a fun book to read and a really interesting concept for a novel. I think readers who like insects or enjoy books like DAISY WOODWORM CHANGES THE WORLD by Melissa Hart should check this one out.
Content Notes for The Big Dreams of Small Creatures
Recommended for Ages 8 to 10.
Eden’s mom is Jewish and her dad is Black.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Some talk about bodily functions. A boy vomits on a teacher.
Eden learns to speak Wasp and communicate with a queen paper wasp. There are stories of other humans communicating with insects.
Augie experiences bullying by classmates. He also has some mishaps involving insects (a roach crawling on him, a fly accidentally getting in his mouth, and him walking into a spiderweb).
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