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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bug in a Vacuum, written and illustrated by Melanie Watt. Tundra Books, Random House. 2015. $24.99 ages 5 and up

Bug in a Vacuum Melanie Watt
"Excuse me,
you've vacuumed

I wouldn't hut a fly.
There's the insect
you want ...

So pal, what are YOU
in for?"

I seem to have had a run on bugs lately. Here's a new book from the glorious Melanie Watt with an attention-grabbing tale of a vacuum and its prey! Before we begin the reading, Ms.Watt helps to prepare us for what is to come by showing that there are different meanings for the same word:

"Bug (buhg)
*an insect
*an unexpected glitch

Vacuum (vak-yoom)
*a cleaning machine
*a void left by a loss"

I know I have been guilty of swooping up bugs if I see them while I am running the vacuum. To tell you the truth, I have never (ever) thought about how those bugs might feel. Here, we learn just how devastating going from the 'top of the world' (it's sitting atop a globe before capture) to the inside of a dirt encrusted vacuum bag can be!

In fact, this small creature feels trapped and all alone as he begins a journey through the five stages of grief described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Each stage is pictured on a series of household items.

A spray can label describes denial - "FINE AND DANDY

                                                           WIPES OUT
                                                           THE UGLY TRUTH

                                                           An ounce of doubt
                                                           and gallons of disbelief"

The bug is tenacious in his bid to escape. Each of the stages provide narrative fodder for his situation and his attempts to free himself from the trap that is confining him. From the outside we see that the family dog is feeling remarkably sympathetic, as he mourns the loss of his own much loved chew toy to the bothersome machine.

Kids and adults are going to establish an empathetic connection with the wee guy as he does his level best to improve his situation. It is so clever, with brilliant artwork taking a major role in the storytelling. It is funny, bordering on hilarious at times. It is tender, in keeping with the story being shared. The illustrations are filled with a host of details that will garner attention and allow for deep discussion.

There are so many ways we can learn to handle changes in our lives. This book definitely helps us see that is true. I can't wait to read it to some unsuspecting adult or child just to enjoy their reaction!

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