Harry the Poisonous Centipede by Lynne Reid Banks and illustrated by Tony Ross, paperback, 159 pages, first published in 1996 by Collins, this edition published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2012.
Harry is a young poisonous centipede, whose name is actually Hxzltl, but since Centipedish has no vowels, it is much too hard for humans (Hoo-mins in Harry’s world) to say. Harry lives underground in damp tunnels with his mother, Belinda, and he spends his time playing with his best friend George, another young poisonous centipede. George is known for his reckless and adventurous nature, often pulling Harry into his escapades.
Belinda strictly forbids Harry to play near or go up the up-pipe, as that is where the Hoo-mins are and they are very, very dangerous. Of course, this doesn’t deter George at all, he actually wants to see a Hoo-min for himself. And as usual, his bravado sways Harry into tagging along for the ride. In an emergency, Belinda tells the young centis to climb the up-pipe to save themselves, and Harry and George have a frightening, but exhilarating adventure in the world of the Hoo-mins.
This was an enjoyable tale that I wanted to read to the end to find out what happened to Harry and George. It is written in a pleasing way, and interspersed with some black and white illustrations. At the end of the story there is some extra bug related content, including some centipede facts, activities and a quiz. It is suitable for lower to middle primary school children to read themselves, but my preschooler liked it too.