Books about bugs!


Barnaby the Bedbug Detective

By Catherine Stier
Illustrated by Karen Sapp

BARNABY THE BEDBUG DETECTIVE introduces a new kind of hero — a small dog with big dreams!

Maybe I’m not the hero type. But I can dream. Sometimes I dream I’m a rescue dog, saving a child lost in the woods. Or a guide dog, helping a person who cannot see. Or a police dog, tracking sneaky robbers. But when I wake up, I must face the truth. It’s mostly big dogs who do those jobs. And I’m just Barnaby, a small mutt living in an animal shelter.

Barnaby has big dreams, but he finds his true calling when he’s adopted into a loving home and becomes a bedbug-sniffing dog—helping to find hidden bedbugs in hotels, on airplanes, in movie theaters, and even in people’s homes!

Turn to the last page of the book to meet an adorable, REAL-LIFE bedbug detective, Bernie!


“Stier visits a timely subject in this informational picture book…there is plenty of useful information here…friendly illustrations dispel some of the misconceptions about bedbugs.”—School Library Journal

“Meet Barnaby, who will not only charm readers with his scrappy smile, but also educate them about bedbugs.”—Library Media Connection

“Cheery illustrations painted in acrylics help to create believable, engaging characters and a positive atmosphere…Overall, a reassuring introduction to a potentially scary subject”—Kirkus Reviews

For more journal reviews, please visit the Albert Whitman & Company website at

Bugs in My Hair?!

By Catherine Stier
Illustrated by Tammie Lyon

BUGS IN MY HAIR?! tackles the problem of head lice in a light-hearted way while offering information and reassurance.

When Alex spills milk on his football jersey and Morgan’s braid unravels, they both say, “These things happen.” But Ellie LaFleur, who is practically perfect, sniffs, “Not to me.” And it’s true. Ellie’s nails are always filed, her clothes are snazzy, and her long locks are lovely. So when Ellie’s head begins to itch, she’s sure it’s an allergy.

“BUGS IN MY HAIR?!” blurts Ellie when her mother and the school nurse give her the bad news: Ellie has head lice. “These things happen,” says Ellie’s mother. At home, Ellie and her mother talk to the doctor and read the papers from the school nurse. Then they shampoo, comb, and do laundry. Ellie even writes a note for kids who get head lice—“These things happen,” it says.

The author includes a note for concerned parents. Catherine Stier’s light look at this all-too-common problem is sure to strike the right note with stressed-out kids and families. Tammie Lyon’s humorous paintings complete this reassuring tale.

Awards and Honors

  • Named a “Best Children’s Books of the Year” by the Bank Street College of Education
  • Featured in Best Books for Children: Preschool Through Grade 6 (9th Edition) by Catherine Barr and John Gillespie (Libraries Unlimited)


“Stier has taken a difficult topic and turned it into a charming story that demystifies the fears and false information surrounding lice infestation.” —School Library Journal

“Stier packs in lots of useful information in the wry story of immaculately groomed Ellie, who goes to the nurse’s office at school with itchy hair and discovers that she has lice. How could ‘absolutely perfect’ Ellie have lice?”—Booklist

“This title will be reassuring to both children and their caregivers”—Remarkable Reads

For more journal reviews, please visit the Albert Whitman & Company website at

What’s Bugging Nurse Penny? A Story About Lice

By Catherine Stier
Illustrated by Suzanne Beaky

Meet a cheerful school nurse who can deal with anything – earaches, tummy aches and even especially pesky problems – in her own surprisingly upbeat ways.

Nurse Penny is a fun and funky school nurse who wears honeybee earrings and a butterfly smock and carries a ladybug purse. But there’s one kind of bug she’d rather not have around. . .head lice! So she calls a special school assembly to talk about those pesky critters—what they look like, how to avoid them, and how to get rid of them. After all, lice can happen to anyone—even the school nurse!


“Nurse Penny will dazzle readers with her radiant personality, ladybug handbag, and butterfly-adorned nurse’s outfit.”—School Library Journal

“In this clever and colorful picture book, the author and illustrator successfully combine words and pictures to create an informative story about a sensitive subject for young students.”—Library Media Connection

The Story of These Books

At book signings for BUGS IN MY HAIR?! (Albert Whitman & Company, illustrated by Tammie Lyon) I met people who were excited to give that book to a school nurse who might encounter similar situations with students.  This, along with an editor’s suggestion, was the inspiration for WHAT’S BUGGING NURSE PENNY? (Albert Whitman & Company, illustrated by Suzanne Beaky) – a book about a fun and funky school nurse.

Here are some facts I learned about Lice while researching these books:

  • Lice have six legs and no wings – they can’t fly
  • They measure only about 1/8 inch long
  • And most importantly, a lice infestation is NOT a sign of uncleanliness
  • Find more facts, and fun stories, in BUGS IN MY HAIR?! and WHAT’S BUGGING NURSE PENNY: A STORY ABOUT LICE

While researching BARNABY THE BEDBUG DETECTIVE (Albert Whitman & Company, illustrated by Karen Sapp), I had the chance to meet a scrappy, real-life bedbug detective dog – Bernie!  He lives in Texas and his photo appears at back of the book.   

Here are some facts about bedbugs I learned while working on this book:

  • Bed bugs don’t fly – but they are fast crawlers
  • An adult bedbug lives about twelve to eighteen months
  • Bedbugs like the dark best.  But keeping lights on won’t scare them away!
  • Find out more about bedbugs, and doggy heroes, in BARNABY THE BEDBUG DETECTIVE.
I met this sweet and scrappy dog Bernie, a real life Bedbug Detective who works with Brian DiCicco of Pest Management, Inc., Kerrville, Texas

I met this sweet and scrappy dog Bernie, a real life Bedbug Detective who works with Brian DiCicco of Pest Management, Inc., Kerrville, Texas


Photo by Teri Grant

Bernie’s portrait, photo by Teri Grant. Used with permission.