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Doris Wild Helmering’s young adult book The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World is ostensibly a story about 12-yr-old Alex who is unmotivated at school but realizes with the help of a sympathetic school counselor that he loves to learn about bugs and worms. However, this book has an unusual twist in that it is also a learning tool that provides essential information about how protein-rich insects and worms can be used to enhance worldwide nutrition.

After a few dark months of recuperating from a serious accident, Alex visits an indoor cricket farm where he encounters terrible smells and overwhelming chirping sounds. He asks a lot of questions and is inspired at the food potential of these loud, malodorous creatures. At first, Alex and his grandmother cook up a few recipes with crickets and worms in their apartment kitchen. Although his mother is at first skeptical, his grandmother, brother, and counselor encourage Alex to think big about his newfound knowledge. After a successful class science project, Alex partners with a company to raise crickets and produce “bug bars” to help feed the world.

This is an engaging tale that rings true regarding a boy’s enthusiasm for insects and application of what he learns to help alleviate world hunger. Illustrations by John Dyess also help make this book rich with visual energy. Endnotes offer readers additional information about the role insects can play in meeting global food needs and activities that encourage children to think more about nutritional protein sources for food.

By offering nuts and bolts information about nutrition in insects, Doris Helmering has provided an unusual twist on the story of a child who doesn’t like school and feels that he is not meant to do anything important. This work would appeal to upper-elementary and middle school students and their parents, and even adult book clubs could enjoy this story within a story and might even be inspired to taste a few crunchy crickets.

Patricia Gregory, PhD — Assistant Dean for Library Assessment Professor, Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University

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