Cover image for Shoebag
James, Mary, 1927-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic, [1990]

Physical Description:
135 pages ; 22 cm
Shoebag, a happy young cockroach who finds himself suddenly changed into a little boy, changes the lives of those around him before returning to his former life as an insect.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.7 4.0 5085.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library FICTION Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Shoebag, a happy young cockroach who finds himself suddenly changed into a little boy, changes the lives of those around him before returning to his former life as an insect.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-7. Shoebag the cockroach, son of Drainboard and Under the Toaster (names designate place of birth), suddenly changes into a little boy and is adopted and renamed Stuart Bagg by the Biddles. Claiming amnesia (to blot out his nonexistent human past), Stuart retains the ability to communicate with his cockroach family. As a boy, he must deal with his seven-year-old sister, "Pretty Soft," who does bathroom-tissue TV commercials; a classic school bully, Tuffy Buck; a cadre of misfits who become his friends; his insect father's increasing hostility; and the strange presence of Gregor Samsa, another alien from the roach domain. Throw in vacuous Pretty Soft's tutor, Madame Grande de la Grande, whose stardom has tarnished, and Mr. Doormatee, who reminds everyone that there is a pal in principal, and there's never a dull moment. Throughout the adventure, Stuart wrestles with revelations of the vices and virtues of humankind and tries to decide which world he wants to live in. Fans of the improbable will find this cockroach fantasy holds appeal, while the combination of humor and possible discussion topics offers opportunities for interchange. The dust jacket, with its roach-eye view of a cavernous kitchen seen from the tile floor, is a definite draw. --Phillis Wilson

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6 --In a nifty twist on Kafka, a la Metamorphosis , this ``popular young-adult author'' asks readers to imagine the revulsion a cockroach might feel at having been suddenly transmuted into a boy. She introduces Shoebag (named for his birthplace), erstwhile insect-son of Drainboard and Under The Toaster. Adopted by the Biddles (in whose house he has always been a resident, however undesirable), renamed Stuart Bagg, poor Shoebag confronts the unknown worlds of humanity and school. Although now large enough to exterminate roach predators that prey on his extended family, Shoebag discovers his new incarnation carries no killer mentality. He bands together with other social outcasts in the cafeteria, and soon their mutual need becomes their collective strength. Shoebag learns that being human has advantages, but he still longs for the form he sees in the mirror--his real self. Still, friendships with others are rewarding and a growing relationship with his human sister, Eunice ``Pretty Soft'' Biddle--the protected, isolated, insulated star of toilet tissue commercials--is enlightening to them both. When given a chance to return to roachdom, Shoebag assumes cerci and antennae with scarcely a look back, scampering off to the figurative bosom of his family. His departure leaves Pretty Soft discovering herself to be Eunice at last, sure of her image without benefit of mirrors, ready to face reality. Unusual (to say the least), amusing, engaging, and gripping, Shoebag has its lessons carefully hidden in its rather unique plot, and will surely leave its readers surreptitiously cancelling parental appointments with the exterminator and carefully hiding tidbits in inconspicuous corners for the benefit of Shoebag's extended clan. A romp. --Patricia Manning, Eastchester Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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