________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 3. . . .September 26, 2008


Boog the Bug.

Cynthia Genaille. Illustrated by Diane Lucas.
Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican, 2008.
20 pp., stapled pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 978-1-894717-46-5.

Preschool-Grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Keith McPherson.

*** /4



Boog the Bug is usually happy, but one day something happened that made him feel really crappy. His mommy and Daddy had another big fight, and this time it lasted 'til morning light. Boog was so scared that he began to cry, and when his Daddy left he didn't even get to say goodbye. This made Boog feel awfully sad because he loved both his Mom and Dad.


Boog the Bug, Cynthia Genaille's debut children's book, deals with the complicated subject of divorce and separation. The book describes the observations and feelings that a young bug named Boog experiences as his parents separate. Eventually, and after taking "a long time to get used to," Boog realizes that his parent's separation was not his fault, that there are other mommies and daddies like his that can't get along, that his parent's separation made many things better between them all, and that his parents "still loved Boog with all their heart."

     The obvious strength of Boog the Bug is that it provides a tool for parents, teachers, and school councilors to provide a non-threatening story through which discussions about parental separation/divorce can be initiated with young children. Although children may not identify directly with that of the insect-protagonist, they may very well identify with Boog's fears and worries about the cause of their parent's fighting and/or separation. Astute parents, teachers, and counselors may find a child's identification with Boog's feelings the perfect springboard from which they can help the child process her/his feelings and understandings about parental fighting, separation and divorce.

      Lucas' illustrations are painted in vibrant primary colours that minimize distractions such as detail, motion, and complex backgrounds. This allows children to focus on the emotion and feelings conveyed through the gestures and facial features of the bugs. The bugs, themselves, are painted in a cartoon fashion, thus further distancing the direct physical association between the child and Boog. Consequently, the illustrations can be used by adults to help children focus on and discuss the intense and sometimes raw feelings that children see, experience, and often internalize in their own situations, but may not be able to directly discuss.

      The narrative is delivered in rhyme that, for the most part, does not seemed too forced or does not interfere with the story line. However, as illustrated above, a few may find the rhyming of words, such as happy and crappy, a little too forced for their comfort.

      Boog the Bug joins a very short but important list of children's literature aimed at helping children deal with separation and divorce (see http://www.nspcc.org.uk/). I particularly applaud Boog the Bug's emphasis on helping children come to understand that they are not responsible for their parents' fighting/separation, and that positive results usually come out of the separation process (albeit it may be along time coming). When used in a safe and friendly environment provided by adult caregivers, Boog the Bug has the potential to be an effective tool for helping children grapple successfully with the anxieties and feeling associated with parental separation.


Keith McPherson has been a primary and elementary teacher and teacher-librarian in BC since 1984 and is currently the coordinator of the Language and Literacy Education Research Centre at the University of B.C.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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