Sample text for Beetle boy / Lawrence David ; illustrated by Delphine Durand ; inspired by Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis.

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Counter Gregory Sampson awoke one morning to discover that he had become a giant beetle.

He stared into the mirror on the back of his bedroom door. He had a large, purple-brown beetle body. He had two big, dark beetle eyes. He had two long beetle antennae. And six long, thin, hairy beetle legs. Gregory couldn't remember this ever happening before.

"Gregory, get dressed and come down for breakfast," his dad called.

Gregory tossed himself down on all sixes and scurried into the bathroom. His beetle claws clicked against the floor tiles. Gregory washed himself and brushed the large, sharp fangs that protruded from his mouth. He looked in the mirror above the sink and scared himself. Yup, he was still a beetle.

Gregory had never seen a bug wearing clothes before, but most bugs didn't have to dress for a day at school. He rummaged through his dresser and took out a baggy shirt and pants with an elastic waistband. The pants weren't too much of a problem to pull on, but the shirt had only two armholes. Second-grade boys were not supposed to have six insect legs. Gregory cut two more holes in the shirt for his two new arms. Or were they legs?

"Gregory!" his mother yelled. "Hurry, please!"

Gregory scampered down the stairs a bit too fast, doing two back and three side flips along the way. He landed at the bottom on his beetle shell back. His six legs kicked at the air as he tried to right his body. Finally, after a few minutes of wriggling, he was able to grab hold of the banister and flip himself over so that his claws met the floor.

No one looked up as Gregory entered the kitchen. Dad stood at the counter packing school lunches for Gregory and his little sister, Caitlin. Mom sat at the table reading the newspaper. Caitlin was drinking a glass of orange juice. Her plate was piled with bread crusts and half an egg yolk.

Gregory hoisted himself into his chair and began eating his eggs and bacon. "Mom," he called, "Dad, Caitlin, I'm a bug. Look at me. I'm a giant beetle."

Dad closed the lunch boxes and smiled at Gregory. "And I'm a hippo."

Gregory waved a claw. "But I'm a bug, Dad, don't you see? What should we do?"

Mom answered from behind the paper. "You've always been our little bug-a-boo."

Caitlin wrinkled her nose. "Yesterday you said you wanted to be an astronaut." She picked a piece of bacon off Gregory's plate. "Do bugs like bacon?"

"Do you know how to change me back?" Gregory asked his mother. "Did this ever happen to you when you were a little boy?" he asked his father.

"Can't we discuss this after school?" Mom replied. You have to get out to the bus."

Dad walked Caitlin and Gregory to the front door and handed them their lunches and backpacks.

"Can bugs be astronauts?" Gregory asked his father.

Dad laughed and gave his son a pat on the shell.

Gregory stared at himself in the hall mirror. Yup, still a bug. Couldn't anyone see?

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Beetles Fiction, Metamorphosis Fiction