Book review: Adventures of ‘bugs’ teach sharing lessons
by BETTIE MARLOWE Banner Staff Writer
Jan 15, 2014 | 455 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Andrea Saint James
Andrea Saint James tells a story of two unlikely friends and how they learn to share in her book, “Bilbao Beetle Learns to Share.” She was inspired by her own childhood experiences.
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“Bilbao Beetle Learns to Share” by Andrea Saint James is the story of two unlikely friends — an ant and a beetle — and their lessons of healing, teaching and getting over being lost.

The author said the book was written after a night in Los Angeles watching a lone firefly. Being taken back to her childhood summers catching them and putting them into a jar to watch their lights, Saint James began to think of the bugs’ point of view and how horrible it must have been for the fireflies to be trapped.

Dedicated to her seven grand- and great-grandchildren, the book is written to honor the innocence of childhood — the discovery of right and wrong. “Bilbao Beetle Learns to Share” is about sharing, love, loss, forgiveness and acceptance. “The story is an adventure which show Bilbao, the beetle, and Axel Ant the true benefits of treating others well because it directly affects ourselves and how people treat us.”

The story begins with Bilbao Beetle and his sister, Betty, arguing over sharing. Bilbao storms away in anger from his home and getting lost, he makes a friend in Axel Ant. But then the two become trapped in a jar by human kids who are collecting bugs for a school science project.

Their “adventure” brings dejection, depression, hunger and remorse, overwhelming the two friends. But Bilbao leans the value of sharing when Axel splits the last, soggy seed in the jar when they get hungry.

When the two human siblings have an argument, it becomes the vehicle for Bilbao’s getting home. Forgiveness and reconciliation become the order for the little friends as they welcome the safety of their tree house. Of course, Axel Ant creates a mound for his home at the tree’s base until he can get back to his family.

Jacque Vance-Cheatham of Cleveland, who brought attention to the book locally, and Saint James have been friends since their teenage years at John Randolph Tucker High School in Richmond, Va. After graduation, they went to separate colleges and lost touch in pursuing careers, getting married and raising children. The two friends reunited on FaceBook two years ago, and “we picked up as if it were only yesterday when we later spoke,” Cheatham said. “Life has kept us busy, however, the friendship never dimmed.”

Saint James recently signed a copy of the children’s book for First Baptist Church in honor of her friend. On Jan. 9, the author was recognized by the Palm Beach Post in Palm Beach, Fla, where she resides currently.

The book boasts beautiful color illustrations (in oils) by Roger Kabler. Saint James and Kabler met when she was a TV publicist at 20th Century Fox. He was in one of their series and they have remained friends.

Michael John Sullivan, author of “Necessary Heartbreak,” praised Saint James’ book. “Andrea Saint James’ sweet tale of a beetle and an ant will touch the heart not only of a child, but everyone who reads it. The story brilliantly captures the life of a bug in the big, human world. There’s some wonderful lessons to learn about co-existing with others, as well as getting along with members of your family. It’s a story you’ll come back to read time and time again.”

Comedian Bobby Roos said, “Andrea Saint James has given life and a very vivid, emotional playground in the bug world she has created. Inside the jar with them is place we humans would never consider entering until now. Somehow, we find ourselves in love with a couple of bugs.”

For information about the author, email The book is published by CreateSpace Independent Publishers and is available online from