Children and adults love picture books that are about animals. In this collection of recently released picture books, readers will love reading about pets, but even more, they will love that these books are not about a traditional pets. Each one is quirky and each one will entertain children read after read.
“Spencer’s New Pet” by Jessie Sima is a fabulous story, and the illustrations tell the whole story. It’s a book without words, and kids love being the ones to tell the story. Even the endpapers are lovely as they countdown the start of the story as if it’s a silent film, because in a way, a story with no words is like a silent film. The reader/watcher has to supply the text. The illustrations are mostly in black and white, with many shades of gray and spots of red — a color that becomes important. The story is even divided into parts like a silent film. The first character we see is the balloon dog, “the pet.” Then we see the boy, who we know from the title is Spencer, leaving a circus tent and walking his new pet on a leash. He is entranced with his new pet and plays with it constantly and sleeps with it at night. But he quickly realizes that life is filled with dangerous sharp objects that could be deadly. Kids (and adults) adore the huge twist at the end that no one saw coming. One reading will not be enough. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
In “I Want a Dog,” Jon Agee showcases his simple illustrations with a story about a girl who wants a dog and an animal shelter that has everything but a dog. Can this possibly have a happy ending? From the first page, the humor begins. “Welcome to Happydale Animal Shelter. Are you looking for a porcupine? A weasel? I’ve got an adorable armadillo,” says the man who works there. The girl replies politely, “No, thank you. I want a dog.” And hilarity ensues with an unexpected ending. Parents and teachers alike will want to point out the fact that none of the offered pets, porcupines, weasels, armadillos, anteaters, baboons, pythons, and more would really make a good pet. Be prepared to read this book over and over. (Dial)
“My Tiny Pet” by Jessie Hartland will not only amuse kids with the child-like illustrations, but it will educate children (and adults) about a different kind of pet. Perhaps the smallest pet in the world. It all begins in “a ginormous house on a tall hill in a big, noisy town.” The family has dogs, cats, snakes, hedgehogs, mice, birds, hundreds of fish, rabbits, and more. But a house filled with that many animals is not an easy house to live in, and mom and dad decide they need to simplify. They find good homes for all their pets and go to live in a tiny house. The simple life is nice, with lots of time to read, draw and daydream, but the narrator says she wants just one pet. But when she learns about a special kind of creature, she knows she has found the perfect pet for their simple life and their tiny house. Most adults and kids have never heard of a tardigrade, a microscopic creature that looks like a bear, but now they’ll never forget this teeny, tiny critter. (Nancy Paulsen Books)
“Molly Mischief: My Perfect Pet” by Adam Hargreaves is one of the books in the “Molly Mischief” series, and in this story, Molly decides she wants a pet. She wants something bigger and more exciting than her pet mouse, Polka. So during a visit to the zoo, Molly sees many pets that would be bigger, and perhaps better, than a tiny mouse. But she finds that hippos, polar bears, giraffes, rhinos, walruses, and many other large animals aren’t quite as wonderful as she might have thought. The illustrations add to the text and will keep the kids giggling. The message at the end, “bigger is not always better,” is perfect! (Grosset & Dunlap)
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover books provided by the publishers for review purposes.