For Sharon Garcia, it began in a moment of anger. The Paradise resident stomped on a beetle in frustration and then, according to a note about the author, “after a moment of guilt she was relieved to see the insect run out from under her foot, alive and well.”
That set her to thinking, and the thinking eventually became a children’s book, “Benny Gets Bugged” ($13.99 in paperback from CreateSpace; visit facebook.com/bennygetsbugged), with full color illustrations by another Paradise resident, Steve Ferchaud, and book design by Son Rey Garcia.
The story begins on the playground when “Mean Mabel” demolishes Benny at a game of Four Square. “She continued deflating his moment of triumph by leading the other players in a taunting chorus or two of ‘Benny, Benny, he’s not worth a penny.’”
Needless to say, “Benny was in a rotten mood and he had to go #2 really bad.” Sitting on the toilet, Benny spots a beetle underfoot and, taking out his anger, squishes the bug. “Benny avoided lifting his foot to look at the mess he’d made of the innocent bug. The longer he sat there the more he pondered his cruel act.”
Just imagine: “What if I was tiny and bugs were big? What if I was just walking home from school … thinking about the cookies and milk waiting at home for me on the dinette table … when a huge angry bug decided that I deserved a good squashing?”
Ferchaud matches the fantasy with nightmare pictures, spread across two pages, of giant spiders and more. Shaken, Benny “thought about the poor little mangled beetle under his foot. Had it cried out to be rescued? How could he ever forgive himself for being meaner than Mean Mabel?”
Well, the beetle escapes unscathed. Later, Benny learns that bug behavior helps them survive. As his teacher says, “They do look and act different than us, but different doesn’t mean bad or better. Different just means not the same. Whenever we encounter something that is different it’s an opportunity to learn and explore something new.”
As for Benny—just call him the “bug boy”!