Plenty of Pets

There are so many terrific new picture books about “our faithful friends.”

In “Strictly No Elephants” (Simon & Schuster, October 2015), the boy has a “tiny elephant” for a pet, and no one else does.  Today it’s Pet Club Day and the boy and his elephant head out.  They find a sign at the door reading “Strictly No Elephants.”  The boy and his pet are forlorn.  Sadly, they begin to walk home when they run into a girl and her skunk, who were also turned away at the door.  Along the way they pick up many more kids with their very unusual pets — giraffes, porcupines and penguins.  They all make their way to a treehouse and paint their own sign, “All Are Welcome.”  Then they spend the day all playing together and making many new friends.  It’s a smart and sweet book about friendship coming in all sizes, shapes and colors.

Grumpy Pets

A very humorous book, “Grumpy Pets” (Abrams, April 2016), tells the story of Billy.  He is a moody, grumpy kid.  His mom takes Billy and his sister to the animal rescue to cheer him up, “but Billy was not amused.” He could not understand why every pet was “so” happy.  He glumly walks around until he hears a noise which leads him to find “the grumpy pets.”  “They were crabby, cranky and moody.  A little like… Billy.”  Billy had found his preferred match.  The book’s simple and adorable illustrations, which capture a variety of emotions, will have everyone chuckling.

In another entertaining book, “Who Wants a Tortoise?” (Random House, July 2016), all the girl wants for her birthday is a dog.  She studies books on puppies, comes up with names, and dreams of a “trusty dog” at her side.  It’s all she wants for her birthday.  But when she opens her birthday gift, it’s a tortoise.  Daddy explains for the millionth time he’s allergic to dogs.  The girl can’t think of any cute names for a tortoise, so she calls it “tortoise.”  She tries to play fetch and other games which do not interest her new pet at all!  When her grandparents come over, they bring her a book on tortoises for her birthday.  The girl eventually realizes that tortoises are actually very cool!  She brings her pet to sharing day at school. When they all play hide and seek with the tortoise, he vanishes.  Eventually the tortoise is found, and welcomed home with a parade.  Funny and engaging illustrations make this book a delight.

Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty

A very clever book, “Excellent Ed” (Knopf, May 2016), is about the Ellis kids and their dog Ed.  All the Ellis kids were excellent at something.  One was a great soccer player, the twins were masters at math.  Another was a superb ballerina, and one was a wonderful cook.  Ed could not find his talents.  As he becomes more miserable, the kids find many things he excells at, like welcoming them home and warming their feet.  What a great and endearing story about a pet who strives for excellence, but finds that his family loves him as he is!


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