In this laugh-out-loud twist on the perils of pet ownership, Lucy the Bear happens upon a little boy hiding behind a bush while she’s busy “practicing her twirls” in the woods one day. Lucy quickly sees “the cutest critter in the WHOLE forest!”, names him “Squeaker” (after the teeny sound he makes), and excitedly brings him home to show Mom. Lucy’s Mom is not amused to find a little boy in her living room, because she knows what’s coming… just like any parent who’s ever received that age-old “can we keep him PLEASE?” pet pitch! Even though Mom issues a careful warning that “children make terrible pets,” Lucy is allowed to keep him, but only on one condition: he is HER responsibility. Will Lucy be up to this challenging task?
Lucy and Squeaker quickly become inseparable, playing, eating, and napping together…but we soon discover that all is not well in pet paradise. Kids will giggle at the comical drawings that clearly show that having a kid for a pet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. At the same time, parents are sure to enjoy watching Lucy discover the unexpected, messy pitfalls of pet ownership. The escalating antics of Squeaker and Lucy will keep kids turning the pages, wondering what will happen next, and they will be eager to discover Squeaker’s fate when Lucy realizes that her furniture-destroying, chandelier-swinging, tea-party-ruining friend has suddenly gone missing. For kids who may have temporarily lost a toy or a pet, Lucy’s frustration at losing little Squeaker will be instantly relatable, and her ultimate realization that maybe Squeaker is happier staying with his own family successfully gets across the subtle lesson that sometimes, leaving things where you find them is a really good idea. (And what parent hasn’t heaved a small sigh of relief when a kid finally learns that particular lesson?)
With a clever, bold format that includes cartoon-like dialogue balloons and simple, easy-to-read text, Children Make Terrible Pets will quickly become a story-time favorite for both parents and kids alike. If the final illustration is any indication, we probably haven’t heard the last of Brown’s likeable, tutu-wearing heroine.
Reviewed by JW
THEMES: BEST FRIENDS; BEARS; PETS; ANIMALS; HUMOR
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010
Suggested Ages: Ages 4 and