CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 21 . . . .June 24, 2005
Jeremy Jeffers is a nine-year-old boy who wants a pet. He needs to demonstrate to his parents that he is responsible enough to care for a pet, and he also needs to choose which animal he would want for a pet. He decides to create a pet sitting service for neighbours, and so various pets are left with him for the weekend to be cared for. This novel consists of a series of Jeremy's pet-sitting episodes, one per-chapter. In each episode, we meet a new neighbour, a new pet and a new problem created by that pet entering Jeremy's family. Jeremy's mother and father and his best friend, Murphy, aid him in these episodes which ultimately help him to realize which pet will suit him best.
Nancy Shouse's writing is energetic and vibrant. She uses vocabulary that will interest and challenge the age range that she is targeting. Words like "outlandishly" and "quizzical" and "sprightly" add colour to the characters they describe but are used in context that should aid children in understanding their meaning. The characters of the neighbours who offer their pets are broadly drawn and will engage readers. Each is very attached to his or her pet, and it is easy for Jeremy and the reader to see why someone would love that cat or hamster or fish.
This novel follows a very simple, linear pattern. Jeremy needs to choose the perfect pet. He is presented with a series of animals that he dismisses for various reasons. When Jeremy finally discovers the perfect pet for him, it is based on what he has learned about animals, which are portrayed realistically, and what he has learned about himself. Readers will recognize their own pets in the very common animals chosen by the author for this story. They may also identify with common pet problems like dog slobber and cat allergies.
Any Pet Will Do is a novel which contains entertaining situations and expansive vocabulary. It contains a story in which readers will see themselves.
Robert Groberman is a grade two teacher at Kirkbride Elementary School in Surrey, BC.
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