Imagine the ladybirds (ladybugs) or other beetles that you see scurrying around in trees. Is their whole existence their tree? Do they spend their whole lives in just one part of it? How does their society run? Does it have a Council, a bureaucracy, and university… and sneaky business bugs? Well, Jonathan Gould’s Flidderbugs’ society does!
Reading this at first, it seemed a little quaint, with irritatingly clever words made up of variations of Flidder with the end of a common word. Slowly it all came together. Following Kriffle and Fargeeta, the son and daughter of opposing leaders in the Council, the differences in the whole belief systems of the two sides’ lives was uncovered. What happened next was an escalating series of mishaps that a bit of clever working together overcame.
On one level this is a cute story of cloistered lives and seeing other people’s points of view. On another it is a parable of governments, particularly in a two party system with a bit of free enterprise on the side, buying favours to swing business in its favour. And while they are engrossed in these petty squabbles, their entire world is falling apart quite unnecessarily.
As I sit here on an ‘unseasonably cold May’ evening (UK Met Office statement), swathed in sweaters, I hear our governments continuing to ignore the calamitous signs of climate change (another record level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere). Maybe everyone should read Flidderbugs. But then, they probably think it’s just a kid’s story. It is a good one, though, and short enough to enjoy in a single evening.