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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review: Flidderbugs

Title: Flidderbugs
Author: Jonathan Gould
Page Count: 41 pages (pdf format)
Publisher: self-published
Genre: fantasy, novella
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

When Kriffle the Flidderbug is thrust into a position of authority, he resolves to figure out why his fellow ‘bugs find it impossible to agree on the pressing issue of how many points there are on the leaves of the tree on which they live. But as Kriffle investigates, he finds that the truth is more complicated, and ultimately more terrifying, than he ever could have imagined.

Flidderbugs is a political satire, a modern fable, or maybe just a funny little story about a bunch of insects with some very peculiar obsessions.

I'm taking a quick break from peeking out the windows to share a fun story with you!  This story is so hot off the presses that the synopsis is still being finalized.  No, what there is is a fun story that brings to mind bedtime stories and plots to games I used to play with friends while I was young.  Anything could happen, and things could take any turn we wanted- funny, absurd, dramatic, you name it.

Flidderbugs is the story of Kriffle, a bug politician and rising heir to his father's position in public affairs in the great tree where all the Flidderbugs live.  The issue on the table, of course, is whether the leaves on their tree have three points, or four.  It's the fundamental question that governs their lives, governs who's in power, governs everything.  Kriffle knows that the leaves have three points, and anyone who thinks otherwise has to just be lying to the populace for nefarious purposes.

Hidden in that scuffle, though, is an allegory about fanatical devotion to ideology and about how small difference seem to be big when they're all anyone talks about.  Star-Bellied Sneeches, anyone?  Fargeeta, Kriffle's uneasy ally in this foliage based debacle, puts it elegantly:
“Most ‘bugs are so determined to believe that their tribe alone is right. They’re not interested in hearing anything that might contradict that. They would never even consider that the truth is more complicated."
Even more serious is the fact that petty disagreements like three points versus four can cause dramatic fallout, because after all, if everyone is sweating the small stuff, then nobody is worried about the big stuff.

At a quick 41 pages, this story is refreshing and attention-grabbing. Not quite a comedy, but still funny in that it resonates strongly of real-life scenarios, this is a good one to get people talking.  I can see this being used in a civics class to introduce a variety of topics in a new way, and to take some of the polarization out of these conversations.  After reading Doodling I came into this story with high expectations, and I definitely wasn't disappointed. Read and enjoy!

Overall Grade: A
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