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Hank's Big Day: The Story of a Bug

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Perfect for reading aloud, this spare, charming picture book about a day in the life of a pill bug in suburbia is also about an unusual friendship.

Hank is a pill bug with a busy life—for a pill bug, that is. His daily routine involves nibbling a dead leaf, climbing up a long stick, avoiding a skateboarder, and playing pretend with his best friend, a human girl named Amelia, in her backyard. And when day is done, Hank likes nothing better than returning home to his cozy rock.

40 pages, Hardcover

First published September 13, 2016

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Evan Kuhlman

11 books5 followers

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5 stars
162 (20%)
4 stars
323 (41%)
3 stars
263 (33%)
2 stars
31 (3%)
1 star
7 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 138 reviews
Profile Image for Erica.
1,327 reviews435 followers
November 17, 2020
One summer, when I was 4 or 5, I found a little black ant crawling around the kitchen. For reasons I don't remember now, I decided I loved her and that we were best friends. I named her Cindy (my favorite name at the time) and took her back outside so she wouldn't be squished in the house. We played together all day and I returned her to her anthill that evening. First thing next morning, I was on my stomach in front of the anthill, calling for her. She came running out, all excited to have another fun day with me. This continued on for a solid week, maybe two.
In retrospect, I feel sad for the poor scout ant I plucked from its duty and then returned to some random anthill where it was probably killed and eaten. I also feel sorry for every ant I kidnapped from that anthill each morning and inadvertently tortured as we "played" together all day. I was a terrible child.

And yet, Hank's Big Day is the exact same story only with a much better outcome, the outcome I believed was happening when I played with my best friend, Cindy.

Hank the roly poly gets up every day, eats a bit of dead leaf, walks by a bunch of insects, does some exercise, and then crosses the sidewalk to meet up with his best friend, a human girl whose hero is Amelia Earhart. Hank and his friend have lovely adventures until the day ends and Hank has to cross back over the sidewalk, do some exercise, walk by a bunch of insects, eat a bit of dead leaf, and go to bed so he can do it all again the next day.

This story is adorable. Hank is the cutest pill bug ever and you'll note from the cover that his best friend is not a little white kid. See, publishing world? Was that so hard? NO. It wasn't.
Best of all, though, is I can relate to this solid bug/girl friendship and it makes me feel warm and crawly inside.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,112 reviews186 followers
November 26, 2019
Hank the pill bug treks through the grass and across a sidewalk, eventually meeting up with his best friend Amelia, and the two embark on a day of adventure together. Flying over the Atlantic (running around the yard), waving to the Queen in England, landing in Paris, and then making their way back, they pass a busy day. As evening approaches, Hank heads home again...

A sweet story of a bug who enjoys the different perspective he gets riding on top of his human friend's helmet, and a little girl who likes to pretend she is her hero, Amelia Earhart, Hank's Big Day: The Story of a Bug is a picture-book celebration of friendship and imagination. The tale is engaging, and the artwork - created digitally - is colorful and cute. Recommended to all young bug-lovers, would-be aviators, and make-believe players.
Profile Image for Sassy.
334 reviews9 followers
September 29, 2017
Weird, but the illustrations were cool.

**update 9/29**
Now that I've read it aloud to a child, it is less weird and much more adorable. Fun to read aloud.

Weird meant "I felt sad for a little girl whose friend is a bug." Just like Michael and Ben. Yeesh. Makes my heart hurt, but I also get the wonder of the illustrations and the perspective of a bug being able to see the world differently via a cross species friendship. Plus the little girl gets a cool co-pilot.

Read it how you want. Keep it fun.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,240 reviews
June 7, 2021
Cute. For me, the part with Amelia felt a little incongruous with the rest of the story, but I appreciated the human-bug friendship and the sense of adventure :-)
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
August 1, 2017
Check out more picture book reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

Hank is a pill bug who during his daily routine meets a human girl named Amelia, in her backyard.

To be honest this cover totally confused me. Due to the title I saw a little boy named Hank. When we got to the little girl I realized my mistake!! The braids are hard to see if you don't expect them. My nephew is constantly on the lookout for books with "brown people" as he calls them. He is part Caribbean, white and asian but totally identifies with the Caribbean. So I am always anxious to find at least one African American character on our library runs. I was thrilled to find this one, even about a girl named Amelia (and not a boy named Hank)!!

We adored this book! The drawings were marvelous fun and the size of the book was really great, a little larger than normal and it made the spreads perfect for my nephews larger drawing pad. lol. He picked Amelia and Hank staring into each other's eyes!! It was my favorite too. The message was really great about friendship and having a routine.

BOTTOM LINE: African American (Caribbean-ish) character is a plus!

You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my picture book reviews in a special feature called Boo's Picture Gallery...
Profile Image for Destinee.
1,584 reviews142 followers
February 14, 2017
Hank is a pill bug. Amelia is a girl who idolizes Amelia Earhart. They are best friends.

This is a sweet story about a day in the life of a cute bug. It's only a "big" day in the sense that it was full and tiring and fun.

I liked it a lot. Very charming.
Profile Image for Read  Ribbet.
1,359 reviews11 followers
March 11, 2017
Minimal words with extra captions, Hank's Big Day tells the tale of a pill bug going through his day. Some good adjective samples to point out in captions. Certainly a book to talk about different perspectives metaphorically. Hank has a human friend that takes him on some additional journeys. The book has as symmetrical structure as Hank repeats his journey in reverse order as he heads home. The book may have been stronger if it was more factually base, but it has some literary elements that could position it as a mentor text. It does have the multi-levels of the narrative text and the captions which could make it a good book for two readers at different levels to read together. Generally it is a good book for early readers though the text density picks up when Hank's human friend appears.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.1k reviews271 followers
September 19, 2016
Handsome digital illustrations displayed in various shapes, sizes, and positions highlight the unlikely story of a pill bug named Hank. As he sallies forth from under a rock, he encounters some intimidating insects and has some narrow escapes as well as moving slowly through the yard. All that effort is rewarded when he finally reaches his best friend, a girl who fashions herself after the great aviator, Amelia Earhart, and takes Hank along her trans-Atlantic flight. After their day spent playing and having grand adventures, Hank heads back home, taking the same path he followed to reach his friend. The story itself is unusual even while reminding readers that friendship comes in many different forms. I also like the end papers that show Hank peeking out at the gigantic world that surrounds him. The book is a palpable example of perspective since the world in which Hank lives is quite intimidating, and yet, he risks it all to get to his friend. I liked the fact that at first Hank seems to be going nowhere in particular, but it might just be possible or even likely that this is how he spends each day.
38 reviews2 followers
November 27, 2017
Awards: n/a

Appropriate grade level(s): k-2nd

Summary: Hank is a little pill bug who explores the big dangerous world. Hank is friends with a little human girl named Amelia and together they use their imaginations to play games and explore the world around them. After they are done playing, Hanks loves to go back to his cozy little home under a rock.

Review: I think this is an adorable book for early readers. I think this book is special in that it really shows young readers the importance of using your imagination. It may inspire emergent readers and writers to think more outside the box in their thinking. The pictures are simple and go along well with the story.

In-class uses:
-What does a bug do?
-What is imagination?
Profile Image for Erin.
3,714 reviews45 followers
October 1, 2016
Had a great time reading this to my kids, especially to the beginning reader who noticed I was skipping the textual asides and started reading them himself. Probably better for one-on-one reading or an older storytime; just right for exploring friendships and bugs.

Might inspire a reader to go find their own Hank and explore the world outside.
Profile Image for Jason.
3,789 reviews24 followers
October 10, 2016
This is the first picture book I've read that's a story of a friendship between a human and a pill bug and is worth noting for that distinction alone. It's not bad, which makes it the best pill bug human friendship picture book I've ever read!
Profile Image for Tracey.
2,744 reviews
January 20, 2018
diverse picture book (Hank the bug goes on a journey, spends half the book with a new friend)
Love the cover and illustrations, doesn't work as well for dial a story though (the pictures really help tell the story).
Profile Image for Jeannie.
32 reviews11 followers
October 26, 2016
I loved the illustrations, but it was a slightly difficult read because the story was laid out in different formats and there were lots of "other words" on the page. But very cute story.
Profile Image for Viviane Elbee.
Author 2 books49 followers
March 11, 2018
This is a very fun book, about a little girl, Amelia, and her pillbug friend, Hank.
In this story, Hank is happy to trek across the lawn and sidewalk to meet up with his human friend and play pretend airplane with her.
The illustrations are adorable and there are lots of details in the illustrations to notice.
Best for older preschoolers and elementary school students. Kids who like pillbugs (or other bugs) will relate. Also good for those seeking stories with airplane themes, Amelia Earhart themes, female heroines and diversity.
Kids voted to give it 5 stars.
Profile Image for Amy Layton.
1,641 reviews52 followers
April 8, 2018
This was one of the cutest picturebooks I've read in a long time, from the illustrations to the typography to the story.  There was awesome use of space on the page, and the colors were the perfect fit for a vibrant story set in nature.  Pillbugs (or rather, roly-polies) were such an important insect to me as a child, so to see that reflected in a picturebook was so endearing and fun.  I definitely recommend this for any child and any person who just loves insects.

Review cross-listed here!
55 reviews
April 20, 2020
This book follows a bug named Hank as he travels across the area he lives in and then meets up with his friend Amelia. Amelia is a young girl who takes Hank around and they play together. As they play together Hank sees the world from above and gets a different perspective on what he normally only sees small portions of. This book would be great for children around grades kindergarten through second. This book could be used to talk about different perspectives as the book explores how Hank and Amelia both see the world in different ways.
Profile Image for Lynne Marie.
Author 9 books87 followers
March 24, 2020
I didn't really like this. I don't think that little kids should really be taking bugs from their habitats as they could hurt / damage them, so I didn't really like the message. I'm not even sure what it was trying to say and am sorry to say found it both a bit boring and contrived. Not that it wasn't creative and fun toward the end, but just really not a clear journey for me or what I could perceive for a child reader either.
588 reviews2 followers
November 15, 2020
A day in the life of a pill bug who comes out from under his rock and explores his world. He is so small and the world is so big. He comes across other bugs and obstacles in nature as well as amazing sights like chalk drawings on the sidewalk and makes a new friend, Amelia, who enjoys him just like he is.

There are two sections that have horizontal text which young readers may need help figuring out how to read.

A Junior Library Guild Selection
Profile Image for Emily.
1,197 reviews9 followers
March 20, 2021
Five stars for the illustrations, two for the text. The story plods in short, declarative sentences, giving no personality to Hank the pillbug, or Amelia, his human friend. Chuck Groenink's expressive, textured illustrations are joyful and beautiful, carrying the story. (In fact, I think it would work as a wordless book.)
Profile Image for Cheryl .
9,254 reviews398 followers
April 25, 2022
I guess if it gets a suburban kid interested in nature it's good? But why describe grasshoppers as scary, crickets as curious, etc.? Just describe something that's true about them, like a hoppy cricket and a noisy grasshopper. And why did the person's brother have to be playing with army men? I'd rather not mix love of nature with glorification of war, tyvm.
9,618 reviews23 followers
December 8, 2016
A bug begins his day with breakfast and then takes us through his day all the way until he meets his best friend a girl named Amelia for a day of adventure. Cute friendship themes. Preschool and up for length. I could see the right group repeating the ants actions.
Profile Image for Hilary.
2,244 reviews50 followers
February 1, 2017
I'm glad that the little girl returns the pillbug to his home at the end of the day. An important thing to teach children who like to gather creatures from the garden, woods, and yard to examine and learn about.
Profile Image for Kirsten.
2,126 reviews87 followers
May 25, 2017
This is very cute, and I like the choice to illustrate Amelia as a black girl. I thought the illustrations were spectacular! However, the story doesn't have a very good flow for reading out loud. It might appeal more to kids who are starting to read on their own.
Profile Image for Vicki.
4,537 reviews16 followers
July 7, 2017
A pill bug aka potato bug explores his world and beyond with the help of his human friend. Amelia who happens to have an interest in her namesake Amelia Earhart takes Hank on a flight around their neighborhood.

Illustrations are super cute.
Profile Image for Flossmoor Public Library (IL).
641 reviews8 followers
May 2, 2018
3 stars
This is a very well-done picture book! The story describes a day in the life of a pill bug named Hank.
From traveling through the yard, exercising on sticks, crossing dangerous cracks in the sidewalk, and
playing with a human friend named Amelia…Hank has an exciting day!

- Miss Emily
58 reviews
June 13, 2018
This story follows a pillbug as he goes through his day. This story isn't fill with real facts like the fly book, but it is cute a engaging and would be a good way to start a conversation about different kinds of bugs.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 138 reviews

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