“Some bugs have superpower-like abilities” – Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite!, p. 8.
|Ashley Spires (author)
|Kids Can Press
|Animal Comic, Fiction
|Environmental Themes and Issues
|Anthropomorphism, Animals in Danger, Educational Nature Facts
|Burt: Male, Nonhuman (Animal)
|Protagonist’s Level of Environmental Agency
|Level 3: Moderate, Plot-Driven Environmental Agency
|Children (5 to 8 years)
Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite! is a humorous, yet educational, children’s comic that centers on Burt the June beetle as he tries to discover his secret talent. To his disappointment, he finds that other insects have abilities that he lacks. For instance, Burt can’t shoot ultrasonic blasts like a hawk moth or spray venom like some species of termites. As the comic’s title indicates, Burt also doesn’t bite. Instead, creator Ashley Spires depicts the beetle flying into porch lights and helplessly rolling around on his back. However, when Burt encounters insects trapped in a spiderweb, he finds that he does have useful abilities. He uses his sticky body to capture the spider, and he uses his heavy body to break the spiderweb and free the other insects. The comic’s narrator concludes that “June beetles might not have any superpower-like abilities, but they do make fantastic friends!” (Spires 52).
Creator Ashley Spires anthropomorphizes the insects, but the comic does effectively educate young readers about the unique abilities of different insect species. While the narrative does portray the spider negatively, it overall promotes a positive view of insects as friendly and interesting, not as frightening or disgusting creatures. No humans appear in the comic.
The comic includes a two-page paratext entitled “Awesome Insect SUPER Facts” that includes additional information about the insects featured in the comic, such as the horned dung beetle and the nasute termite.