From School Library Journal
Grade 5-7-- Maggie Mercer has a passion for bugs, a passion she gets to indulge every summer when she accompanies her scientist parents to a mountain research laboratory in Maine. While her mother and father study soil and plants, she collects insects and observes the behavior of a rich assortment of wildlife. When a graduate student from Czechoslovakia gives her a terrarium full of exotic, brightly hued fire bugs for her 12th birthday, Maggie is ecstatic. Unfortunately, the bugs soon begin to die. The larvae, instead of metamorphosing into adults, become grossly large after their fifth molt and explode. Someone, or something, is killing them. Maggie, and 10-year-old Mitch, a pesky computer hacker, investigate the bugs' "murder," using computer databases and scientific reasoning to examine every possibility. These investigations are so intriguing that readers may well be spurred on to further study. The Fire Bug Connection is smoothly written and well characterized. The initial prickly relationship between Maggie and Mitch adds an element of tension that is interesting and believable. Descriptions of Maggie's various experiments in animal behavior as well as general information on a number of ecological problems are skillfully woven into the plot.