CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 21. . . .February 4, 2011.
No Pets Allowed.
Irene N. Watts. Illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2010.
112 pp., pbk., $8.95.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.
Review by Kristen Ferguson.
In No Pets Allowed, Matthew is a lonesome eight-year old boy who has just moved with his mother to the big city from a rural town. He was forced to leave his beloved dog, Lucky, behind with his grandparents because his mother was not able to find an apartment that allowed pets. As Matthew has difficulty adjusting to his new school and life in the city, he creates a new imaginary dog named Fred. Matthew and Fred play in their imaginary world together in the apartment, and other tenants begin to believe that Matthew and his mother are keeping a real dog. When Matthew and Fred save the day by stopping a burglary in the apartment parking lot, the other tenants and the landlord allow Matthew and his mother to bring Lucky to the building to be a watchdog.
“When are we going to find a place that allows dogs? You promised,” Matthew said.
“Sit down and listen. Look at me. I said I’d try to find a place where we can keep a dog. And I have tried. You know that. There aren’t many apartments for rent that take dogs. We have to live close enough to school so that you can walk there by yourself. We need to live close enough to transit so that I can get to work without a car. The West End has all that, and for now this is the best I can do.”
Matthew could tell his mother was losing her patience. “I guess so, but I’m lonely without Lucky. It’s lonely living in a city and being new in school.”
Awarding-winning author Irene Watts targets a slightly younger audience than she has in the past in this new novel, No Pets Allowed. This is an easy-to-read novel, perfect for those students transitioning into reading chapter books. Just over 100 pages, the book has 11 chapters with each containing a number of delightful illustrations by artist Kathryn Shoemaker. The illustrations are particularly fun for the reader as they include Matthew’s imaginary dog, Fred, thus immersing the reader into Matthew’s world.
No Pets Allowed touches on many important themes for young readers, themes such as moving, adjusting to life changes, making new friends, and loneliness. The relationships among Matthew, his mother, his schoolmates, and the tenants are highly believable and relatable. The novel would be an asset for any home, elementary school, or public library.
Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches Language Arts at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay, ON.
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