The Cockroach by Elise Gravel

Review by Jocelyne Gregory

Tundra Books, February 2020

32 pages, Hardcover, $12.99 CDN, $10.99 USD

ISBN: 9780735266421, ebook: 9780735266438

Ages 6-9, Grades 1-4

Picture Book, Graphic Novel, Non-Fiction, Science/Nature

Cockroaches can send chills up a person’s spine. Most people conjure mental images of small bugs fleeing when a bathroom light is switched on? Do they deserve this bad rep? What do we really know about cockroaches? The Cockroach by Elise Gravel is here to help educate readers about these notorious bugs.

Focusing on the American cockroach, and including illustrations that make the topic more approachable, readers will discover fascinating details about a cockroach’s life. For instance, their diets, preferred environments, and how many babies can be born in a twenty-four-hour period. (Spoiler, it’s sixteen. Yes, sixteen! In twenty-four hours.) The book’s flow is easy to follow and the facts are presented in a positive manner.

Gravel’s illustrations provide a humorous view of these insects. One cockroach is seen lounging on a bed enjoying room service. Another attends a find-dining restaurant but orders toe nail clippings along side a cheese burger and orange juice. Others climb into suitcases and prepare to embark on journeys, as human travel is how most cockroaches spread. The illustrations actually manage to appeal to readers who are squeamish.

The Cockroach is part of the Disgusting Critters series, which also includes worms, slugs, head lice, flies, toads, rats, spiders, bats and mosquitos. Young readers will be able to read the book on their own, although parents might be tempted to read it with them. It would be a great addition to a home, school, or public library.

Jocelyne Gregory is a UBC MFA creative writing candidate and a graduate of SFU’s The Writer’s Studio. She’s an author and editor and has provided manuscript consultations with the Sechelt Public Library and the Writer’s Studio. A lifelong gamer and fan of comics, she lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.

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