CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 26. . . . March 9, 2018
In A Bug in a Rug, written and illustrated by Elaine Larivière Chaput, a boy finds a spider in his house and contemplates the various ways he can deal with it.
This is a short tale about making choices and caring for even the smallest creatures around us. Told in rhyming text—each page turn bringing with it an illustration and one line of the story—it offers multiple possibilities for how a child could handle finding a spider in his or her house. The boy in the story contemplates many scenarios, including hiding from the spider, squishing it, chasing it with a broom, and picking it up to set it free outside.
A Bug in a Rug shows how a child can take responsibility for his or her own actions by pausing to consider what is the best way to deal with a potentially unpleasant situation. The text, itself, never directly indicates what option the child should choose (although it does suggest that freeing the spider would create the happiest outcome). By giving the reader the chance to make the final verdict on how the story should end, teachers and caregivers have an opportunity to open a dialogue about the benefits of reflection and the impact different decisions can have.
Although the resolution of this tale can be interpreted as open ended, it is obvious by the text and illustrations that the best proposed reaction to seeing an insect or spider indoors is to set it free (a sentiment shown, for example, in an image that depicts the boy's cats crying as he prepares to squish the spider). While the message that even small creatures deserve to be handled with care is a positive one, these subtle, guiding hints would have been better suited to a story wholly dedicated to teaching children about spiders. A Bug in a Rug promotes a peaceful outcome, but since much of this tale seems focused on exploring how a child could react rather than how he or she should react, the initial set up—asking readers what they would do if faced with an eight legged visitor in their home—would have lent itself nicely to a story that kept a more neutral tone throughout.
A Bug in a Rug would, however, make a good companion piece to the author's previous story, What Would You Do?, in which a small boy must figure out how to find a missing shoe. While the subject matter of the two books is quite different, both books encourage children to problem solve, and A Bug in a Rug even ends by asking the reader "what would you do?" if a spider was found nearby. The author has created a unique style of storytelling and illustration (both books using similar colouring and including two curious cats as characters), and so her newest story fits well with her previous tale.
A simple book with an uplifting message, A Bug in a Rug shows readers that they have the power to make their own decisions by thinking about their problems and contemplating what is the best, and perhaps kindest, choice of all.
Meredith Cleversey, a librarian in Cambridge, ON, loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.