Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion

Farrar. Sept. 2022. 208p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374388799.
Gr 3-5–Ruby loves bugs, so much so that she plans to be an entomologist one day. The Black tween’s science project revolves around training bees to recognize and respond to certain smells, if she can convince her science teacher to support her. Her discovery of an unusual red bug changes everything. Not only is the bug unidentifiable but it also escapes by eating through the jar! Even stranger, her social media post brings government agents to the neighborhood to track it down. But when Ruby spots the bug again while spying on a neighbor who hasn’t been seen recently, Ruby realizes it has grown bigger and seems to be eating metal. When the playground at an abandoned school disappears, Ruby recruits her friends to help her gather evidence to prove to the adults that the bug exists and is a hazard. The children’s incursion into the empty school proves to be more adventure than any of them could have foreseen. In addition to the adventures related to the strange bug, Ruby and her friends must face rumors, conspiracy theories, and community concerns. Bradford’s entertaining and informative tale highlights the value of scientific and critical thinking as well as the importance of friendship and community.
VERDICT A good choice for middle grade collections, especially where there’s a need for science fiction with BIPOC main characters.

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