STARRED REVIEW
August 25, 2015

Hilariously confronting stages of grief

By Melanie Watts
Review by

Like an insect flying around your living room, Bug in a Vacuum by Mélanie Watts grabs your attention. A vacuum may seem an easy way to get rid of pests, but to one fly, this undignified “end” is actually a beginning.

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Like an insect flying around your living room, Bug in a Vacuum by Mélanie Watts grabs your attention. A vacuum may seem an easy way to get rid of pests, but to one fly, this undignified “end” is actually a beginning. Snatched from his life mid-journey, the fly is initially in awe of the wondrous, nebulous world in which he has landed. Flying among the myriad items also caught in the vacuum’s voracious belly, the fly eventually realizes he’s trapped. Now his real journey begins, through the Kübler-Ross stages of grief (as advertised and summarized by household cleaners, a microwave dinner and a box of tissues).

Attempting to escape, the fly tries everything—including arming the dust bunnies—before he settles into his new (permanent?) home among the dice, broken crayons and paperclips. Echoing his grief is the family dog, Napoleon, who tries to rescue his similarly trapped chew toy. Is this really the end of our spunky friend?

Watts (Scaredy Squirrel) has created an irresistible tale that will have readers rooting for her buggy-eyed hero and eager to know what’s next. Watts cleverly keeps the narrating text to a minimum, so her fascinatingly detailed illustrations move the plot and tell the story. Watts’ art perfectly captures the vacuum’s vast collection; one might suspect she spent significant time poring over an open vacuum bag. Adding to the hilarity is the fly’s nonstop chatter, in familiar idioms and exclamations, directed toward the vacuum’s inanimate residents.

While significantly longer than most picture books, the story moves quickly with its vibrant pictures and our hero’s fidgety determination. Bursting with witty, all-ages-friendly quips, Bug in a Vacuum will pull you in, happy ending guaranteed.

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Bug in a Vacuum

Bug in a Vacuum

By Melanie Watts
Tundra
ISBN 9781770496453

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