cover image Bug in a Vacuum

Bug in a Vacuum

M%C3%A9lanie Watt. Tundra, $21.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-77049-645-3

In this half-comic, half-tragic tale, Watt (the Scaredy Squirrel series) portrays a bug that gets sucked into a canister vacuum and travels through Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief. Watt's muted spreads feature midcentury modern interiors and ersatz advertising, with no humans in sight. The bug (it appears to be a fruit fly) becomes trapped inside the prison of the vacuum along with the family dog's stuffed toy, a mute but comforting companion. In a long, pun-laden monologue, readers watch the fly express denial ("This is amazing!"), bargaining, anger ("No more Mr. Nice Fly!"), despair ("I'll be a prisoner forever"), and, finally, acceptance ("I don't wish to change a thing," it says, looking resigned). Outside the canister, the dog mirrors the same emotions with regard to its lost toy. The story may require some context-setting from adults ("What does bargaining mean?"), while the bug's fate—it survives, but in a strange new place—doesn't offer the consolation it might. But young readers, who are so often subjected to events they can't control, will easily sympathize with the fly. Ages 5–9. (Aug.)