________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 2. . . .September 11, 2015


Bug in A Vacuum.

Mélanie Watt.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2015.
96 pp., hardcover & ebook, $24.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-645-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77049-647-7 (ebook).

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.

Review by Reesa Cohen.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Bug (buhg)
- An insect
- A virus
-An unexpected glitch

Vacuum (vak-yoom)
- A cleaning machine
- An empty space
-A void left by a loss


Fans of the mega-talented Mélanie Watt, this reviewer included, have come to expect the unexpected from her, and this bizarre offering doesn’t disappoint! From the introductory page, where two terms are defined, including possibly different interpretations sometimes associated with these words, to an unusual ending, readers will be entertained by Watt’s extraordinary sense of humor in dealing with an intriguing situation.

     A bug being chased by a family dachshund is sucked into a vacuum cleaner, along with the dog’s toy puppy. The fly’s observations and humorous asides are very entertaining. The “grief”, or as Watt calls it, “a life changing event”, is detailed comically through the bulging eyes of the bug as he tries to cope with his situation in five stages (as first described by the famous Elisabeth Kubler-Ross). Each stage is listed and named in a commercial product.

     The first stage, Denial, is pictured on a spray can with hilarious writing. In this section, the bug is at first intrigued by his new surroundings and questions why he is here... For a surprise party? for a bug day? Perhaps a dream?

     Stage two, Bargaining, represented by a laundry detergent, turns into a bargaining session for his release, with some very amusing text.

Can I be vacuumed next Monday instead? Tonight’s bowling night with the dung beetles!

      But even with promises to clean up his act, this is unsuccessful and leads to Anger in Stage three, represented by a frozen dinner, and threats of “No More Mr. Nice Fly!!”

     A book represents the fourth stage, Despair, on which it is noted that this book is based on a truly SAD story. Here, the hopeless bug admits that “I am at the end of my rope”, and “The odds are against me.” When he reaches the fifth and final stage, Acceptance, he decides to surrender and “appreciate what I have.” Through it all, the household dog is listening and imagining what is going on inside the vacuum, perhaps experiencing his own grief over losing his favourite toy. The fate of the vacuum and the bug are dealt with in a very clever way.

     The sometimes colourful, sometimes dark, illustrations picture the chaos inside the vacuum with the dirt, the dust and many strange items adding to the confusion of the bug. Together with a delightful quirky text that is visual in itself, Watt creates an unusual point of view for the reader. From her many of her books, such as Scaredy Squirrel, to her audacious Chester, Watt has been well-rewarded and recognized for her creative and diverse storytelling as well as for her engaging and offbeat art. This title will only add to the accolades.

Highly Recommended.

Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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