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Book Review: ‘Who Let the Bugs Out?’ a Great Summertime Read for Kids

“Granny, who let the bugs out?” asked my 8-year-old granddaughter, as she cuddled close to me on the couch. As part of our evening bedtime ritual, I had chosen to read this newly released book, Who Let the Bugs Out?, to my grandchildren. I hoped to gauge the book’s merits on their reactions. So, this book has been reviewed by a team of kids, who are 8 and 6.

Who Let the Bugs Out jacket Summertime Read for Kids by Robert U. Montgomery

“Let’s wait and find out who let the bugs out,” I responded. To which she said, “I bet it’s the sister.” 

Throughout the course of reading this book – which is a story about 4 rambunctious 11-year-old boys – my grandchildren asked questions. “Why are their necks so long?” “Why did they bring the lightning bugs inside?” “Did you play the game ‘Kick the Can,’ Granny?” 

The book is set in summer, back in the day when kids could play outside safely after dark, and parents then came outside and called their names, signaling the end to another fun day and usually, time for a bath and bed. 

How do I know this? Because as a child in the Dakotas, I lived this lifestyle in the ‘60s. So did the author, Robert U. Montgomery, who lives near me in the Ozarks of Missouri and is well known as a fishing writer. He has published another children’s book (listed below), and been featured in Boy’s Life. It appears he took every advantage of being a boy while in that zone. As a mom of 3 boys, a veritable fraternity house that I created for myself to live in, the book brings back the rough-and-tumble truth of what it was like to raise a bunch of boys.

This book is the first in Montgomery’s series for kids that he calls “growing up with nature.” The plot is simple, but evokes plenty of conversational topics – such as games kids played, the anatomy of fireflies, telling the truth, fearing punishment for telling the truth, etc. 

The plot involves the boys – Benny, Matt, Carl and Bobby (author) – collecting fireflies in jars and instead of letting them out at the end of the evening, consolidating the fireflies into 1 jar and sneaking the bugs into Bobby’s bedroom for a sleepover. They had plans to use them as a flashlight and then, set them loose out the window. However, without revealing too much, the fireflies found their way out of the jar and all over Bobby’s bedroom. To which his dad yelled, “Oh, shucks!” To which the author wrote, “Actually, he said something else. But I’m not supposed to use those kinds of words, so I won’t repeat it.” To which my grandson said, “Oh, Granny … I bet he said the ‘F’ word, but I’m not allowed to say that!”

The bratty sister entered the story at this point, and immediately, my granddaughter was on to her. “Now, I think she did it,” she stated.

Bobby from who let the bugs out lightning bugs

You’ll have to buy the book and find out who let the bugs out. However, based on the reaction of my grandchildren, I’d say this book is a winner, a great summertime read. The illustrations, by art teacher Katie Abbott, make each page turn another adventure in color. Even though the characters’ necks are giraffe-long, they still appear human and frankly, real. I caught the grandkids looking all over the pages, soaking in all the information in its glorious colors, before allowing me to turn yet another page. 

My granddaughter, who is 8 but reading at the 6th-grade level, she seemed entertained and it made her think and ask about things – such as Granny’s childhood, fireflies and why they glow, the importance of telling the truth and why summer is so special. I think my grandson felt that he could relate to the boys and especially how Bobby felt about his sister.

The book is available for $12.99 on Amazon. Robert has written other books, and I believe the next one on my reading list with grandkids will be Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies, a book about exploring the outdoors. The second in the “Who Let the …” series, Who Let the Frogs Out, is due for publication this fall.

  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. She is a contributing editor at "SHOT Business," and her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at ozarkian.com.