In Bug, in the Eyes!, author Tony Jaksa, Sr. presents a children’s picture book about childhood safety. Co-authored with his grandchildren, the book is the first in his “Kids get hurt book series.”
The book tells a true-life story about Jaksa and his grandchildren: Bug and her older brother Bud, who call Jaksa “Pops.” One day, in Pops’ backyard, Bug rides her “hot wheels” while Bud uses a hose to fill up a bucket of water for Pops. As Bug races toward Bud on her tricycle, he blasts her in the face with the hose. She recoils and wipes her eyes, and Pops sternly reprimands Bud, who issues an apology.
Pops then directs Bug to his “Safety Shed,” where he provides her with safety goggles. “Can I have a pair for Buddy, too?” she asks. Eyes protected, the two happily resume their water fight. At book’s end, Bug and Bud reinforce the story’s message: “We learned about protecting our eyes today…Goodbye everyone! Learn to be safe!”
The story’s strength lies in its simplicity; children will appreciate the perfectly captured snapshot of an innocent but incautious moment of play, and the story could provide a springboard for parent-child discussions on safety precautions. Still, one wonders why the author didn’t choose an event that illustrates a more common safety infraction, such as crossing the street, running with shoes untied, etc. And the story fails to recognize that getting blasted in the face while riding a tricycle—with or without goggles— could easily result in a child losing control and getting hurt.
The illustrations also pose a problem. While appealingly quirky, their quality is uneven, with Bud’s appearance and the size of the tricycle changing from page to page.
Despite such flaws, readers will find Bug, Bud and Pops likable, and a picture book series on safety makes good sense. Next time out, one hopes the author will choose a more common safety scenario, along with adding some polish to the final presentation.
Also available as an ebook.