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.

bug in a vacuum feature image

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Bug in a Vacuum 2

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.

Bug in a Vacuum 4

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. 

3 thoughts on “Bug in a Vacuum by Mélanie Watt

  1. This is a really interesting concept – bringing in those elements of grief into a children’s tale in a very abstract way. We’re always on the look out for new books to read with our 4 (soon to be 5) year old and I’d be curious to check this one out…especially since the topic can lend itself to other situations in life. For instance, when things don’t go as planned! Thanks for sharing your review with us.

  2. Death is a tough subject to deal with when explaining the process or loss to children.
    Hats off to the author for dealing with it with sensibility and to the parents who face it with their children.

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