CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 40 . . . . June 14, 2013
The Big Pet Story is the second adventure in the "Justin Time" series, based on an episode of the animated TV series by the same name. Justin, the main character of The Big Pet Story, has a lively imagination and an adventurous spirit. In this adventure, Justin decides he would like to have a pet, but not just any pet. Justin wants the "biggest pet in the world". He and his imaginary friend Squidgy consider a number of different pets, each one larger than the previous one. Finally, they decide that the biggest and best pet would be an elephant. This is where the adventure begins.
Each "Justin Time" episode features a journey to another place and time. Ancient India forms the backdrop for The Big Pet Story. Justin and Squidgy are transported to another place and time in the wink of an eye although readers are not shown how this happens. Justin's friend Olive explains that she is the royal pet keeper and Justin is the Rajah. Olive introduces him to a huge pink elephant named Tiny. Olive proceeds to teach Justin and Squidgy the rules for taking care of a pet elephant.
Justin discovers that taking care of an elephant is much harder than he had imagined. Eventually they decide that Tiny would be better off in the palace zoo. After saying goodbye to Olive and Tiny, Justin and Squidgy magically return home with a sudden urge to go to the zoo.
The storyline is somewhat less adventurous than The Pancake Express and focuses on the antics of trying to keep a pet elephant. The six rules of elephant care seem a little excessive although preschoolers will appreciate the humour involved with each situation.
Brandon Scott is the creator, author and illustrator of the series. His lively pictures complement the story and add humour on every page. Scott does particularly well at showing feelings through the facial expressions on his characters.
Books based on popular TV series are always a favourite for young children. The "Justin Time" books offer an interesting addition to any child's or school library.
Claire Perrin is an elementary teacher with the Toronto District School Board.
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