________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 20 . . . . May 29, 2009

cover Penny Picks the Perfect Pet.

Carol Szuminsky. Illustrated by Jenny Prest.
Winnipeg, MB: Peanut Butter Press (www.peanutbutterpress.biz), 2007.
32 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 978-0-9735579-1-6.

Subject Heading:
Pets-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Linda Ludke.

** /4


Penny woke up to the sound of birds singing in the tree outside her window. As she lay in bed, she thought the same thoughts she thought every morning. “There’s one thing I want more than anything else in the whole world! I would like a pet of my own to take care of and love. My three best friends all have pets, and I’m really good at feeding and playing with their animals. I know I’m big enough,” she told herself.

Penny wants a pet “more than anything else in the whole world.” Her parents, on the other hand, want to be sure she’s responsible enough to handle caring for an animal. Penny eagerly demonstrates her maturity by helping her friends with their animals. She walks two pugs, feeds rats and cleans out a hamster cage. When a neighbour goes on a vacation, Penny is thrilled at being asked to look after their cat.

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     After finally convincing her parents that she is ready to have a pet, Penny tries to decide what animal she would like best. At the pet store, she considers the merits of birds, newts, rabbits, puppies and kittens and comes to a decision. An unexpected surprise awaits Penny at a family gathering when Auntie Barb promises her the pick of their dog Roxie’s litter.

     This picture book is organized into four chapters. Digitally enhanced cartoon illustrations break up the long blocks of text. The eye-catching layout and design features yellow “splattered” borders and curved chapter headings that accentuate the corners of the pages.

     Although readable, the writing lacks finesse. The dialogue is rather forced, with an overuse of exclamation marks: “‘Hi, Penny!’ greeted Jamie. ‘Would you like to help me walk Quincy and Gus?’ ‘You bet I would!’ exclaimed Penny.” As well, some passages seem to have a didactic purpose that weighs the text down: “Even though the newt looked like a lizard, Penny knew from reading a library book that it was really an amphibian, this explained why its home was an aquarium”; “Penny was surprised to learn that rodents have 4 front teeth that never stop growing their whole lives.”

     While children will relate to Penny’s desire for a pet, the wordy text may lose their interest.

Recommended with reservations.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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