July 15, 2013

Exceptional Pets

I can safely say that this post is going to be one of that hardest to narrow down. There are so many picturebooks out there these days about exceptional pets. My stack of books is so large even Toothless is at a loss:



But I have to start somewhere so here goes. I thought I'd begin with, what I consider to be, the most unique one of them all, Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown. While the other books I've seen out there are about exceptional pets usually portray the pets as animals, this is the first one I can think of with an interesting role reversal: Lucy, a bear who likes to practice twirling in the woods, comes across a lost boy one day and decides that he'd make the perfect pet. Her parents reluctantly agree to let her keep Squeaker (aptly named since all he does is squeak) under the condition that she understands he is completely her responsibility. They end up inseparable, playing together, napping together, and even potty training together. One day, though, Squeaker disappears and Lucy sets out to find him, only to discover that he has reunited with his human family. The moral: children really do make terrible pets.




Another great book about an exceptional pet is One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo and David Small. Elliot is a kid who has clearly grown up too fast. He wears a suit and bow tie every day and avoids messy kids and crowds when he can. So when his father takes him to Family Fun Day at the local aquarium Elliot goes to the one area where there isn't a whole group of kids, the penguin tank. Elliot quickly falls in love and ends up taking a penguin home with him, tossing it into his backpack. Elliot ends up spending quite a bit of time trying to make his new penguin friend Magellan (aptly named) feel at home, turning the thermostat down to the coldest setting, creating an ice skating rink in his room, and even ordering anchovy pizza. It's a great story that kids will enjoy for its multilayered readings (especially when they get to the end and read the small twist):



The last one I'll chat about in this post is A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid. Petunia is a little girl who wants a skunk for a pet and won't take no for an answer. In fact, she tells anyone who will listen to her that she wants one. She promises to take it for walks, read to it, and clean its litter box. But her parents continue to say no on the grounds that skunks stink. One day she actually happens to come across a skunk in the woods. Will she stick to her guns? Or will she realize just how smelly a skunk can be? The illustrations are clean, simple, and amazing, and the story has a great sense of humor.




Other books with exceptional pets include the classic Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin; Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich; Percy and TumTum: A Tale of Two Dogs by Jen Hill; A Sick Day for Amos McGee by the amazing duo Philip and Erin Stead; Extraordinary Pets by Barroux (which is so amazing that I'm designing a whole new post based on it--Stay tuned!), and the oversized book 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and Joƫlle Jolivet. Like I said, there are so many out there. What is your favorite??

Exceptionally yours,
Mel