Spring is here and the earth is warming up. Time to be outside and share our space with the other creatures that inhabit our planet. Most people have some kind of pet, so one story is about dogs, another is about cats and the third one is about sharks, though I doubt most people want a pet shark. It’s rather like to trying to keep a venomous snake as a pet. It’s a good way to get hurt by an unhappy critter. And sharks in the ocean, if they’re hungry or you get too close, can bite you if they think you’re a tasty looking morsel.
The first book is about learning the best way to adopt a dog. And to understand how the dog feels about things.
A Dog Wearing Shoes
Illustrated by Sangmi Ko
Mini’s mom brings their car to a hair-raising, screeching halt when she sees a small dog trotting toward them on a busy street. The dog has on yellow boots and loves to play, but when they get home to their apartment, the dog barks in misery. Mini takes the dog to the park, but first chance she gets away the dog runs. Mini and her mom find the dog at the animal shelter and take it back home. But this time, Mini puts up signs in the neighborhood and soon the dog’s owner comes to get his dog. The next day, Mini and Mom go back to the shelter and get Mini her very own dog. The message in this story is to get your new pet at the animal shelter and then make sure your animal is always properly identified. This story is a good introduction to taking care of your animal. The illustrations, with a generous nod to Dr. Seuss, are enchanting and humorous. The reader easily sees the dog’s energy and Mini’s reactions to the unfolding events. The only color in the wonderful pencil drawings is the dog’s yellow boots.
BIBLIO: 2015, Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House Children’s Books/Random House LLC/Penguin Random House Company, $16.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Picture Book
The second book is about an extraordinarily independent cat, who isn’t sure he wants a pet human.
My Pet Human
Illustrated by Yasmine Surovec
A black and white cat is proud of his independent status. He doesn’t want a pet human. He eats at local restaurants and hides in tree holes. He has animal friends, what does he need pet humans for? They are sure to squeeze him too tight and not feed him when he’s hungry. They won’t appreciate the presents he brings them and probably they won’t let him go outside to wander around. But one day, while hiding from the animal control officer, he notices a little girl and her mom living in a house he thought abandoned. Soon he’s eating mac and cheese with tuna and olives. And there are empty boxes to play in, so he decides to train these humans to do what he wants. The girl is easy to train, but the mom takes longer. He and his animal friends concoct a plan to get a lonely boy and the cat’s little girl to meet. All goes as planned and the children become friends. But cat worries he no longer has a pet human, until the girl and her mom rescue him from the animal control officer. Cat decides he has the perfect pet humans. The story is nice introduction to caring for pets and also shows the need for friendship. It lends itself well to classroom discussions of the correct way to care for pets and make friends. The illustrations are simple and charming.
BIBLIO: 2015, Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings, Ages 6 to 9, $12.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Early Reader
The third book is about a boy who has to fend off a hungry shark. Fortunately, he’s quite a clever boy.
Surrounded by Sharks
Davey Tsering is on vacation with his parents and younger brother, Brandon a.k.a. Brando. All of them crammed into one hotel room on a tiny key just off Key West, Florida. Davey feels 13 ½ years old is too old to share a room with the rest of his family. When he wakes up early, he decides to do some exploring—it’s impossible to get lost on an island so small he sees it all just by pivoting 360o in front of the hotel, right? He explores a while, until he discovers a sheltered part of the island, sporting a “No Swimming” sign. Well, he wasn’t planning on swimming anyway. He settles himself by bushes up from the beach to reread one of his favorite books. But it’s turning into a warm day and he decides to explore the water’s edge; he’s not really breaking the rules if he just wades along the shore. After hiding his glasses and book and shoes under a bush, Davey walks along the shore, but when he wanders a bit further out into the surf he’s sucked in by a rip current and carried out to sea. When his parents discover he’s missing, they enlist the help of the hotel manager and local police, plus the resident Coast Guard officer. But not once do they ask Brando for his opinion. The rest of the book is about the search to find Davey and Davey’s experiences trying to stay afloat and then ward off sharks. The tone of this book is quiet, because Davey is quiet, but the author does ratchet up the tension. A nice read, with a variety of temperaments amongst the characters in the book.
BIBLIO: 2014, Scholastic Press/Scholastic Inc., Ages 8 to 12, $17.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Middle Reader
ISBN: 978- 0-545-61545-7
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