Bug in a Vacuum by Mélanie Watt

We’re big fans of Mélanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel series, so when we heard she was releasing a new book we were pretty excited to read it. Bug in a Vacuum is a simple, sweet tale of a fly who moves through the five stages of grief — denial, bargaining, anger, despair, and acceptance — when it gets sucked into a vacuum cleaner.

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The poor thing was just buzzing around, doing what flies do, when suddenly its whole world turned upside down.

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At the same time we see Napoleon the dog deal with the loss of his stuffed toy when it suffers the same fate.

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Retro illustrations and spare text keep the story moving through its 42 suspenseful pages.

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The dog and the fly stole our hearts with their big, expressive eyes and we empathized with both characters as they experienced each emotion. My 8-year-old appreciated the expressions illustrated literally in the pictures (i.e. the fly is sitting on a globe when he’s “on top of the world”). And I like how Mélanie was able to treat a heavy subject — how we experience loss — with just enough humour. My 6-year-old says the pictures inside the vacuum are scary but he’s a sensitive soul so I’m not surprised.

I can’t tell you if it has a happy ending, but I can tell you we enjoyed it.

Bug in a Vacuum is recommended for ages 5 to 9.

Penguin Random House Canada Ltd. sent me Bug in a Vacuum for review purposes.