Pets — 2011 Fiction Picture Books (Cybils Nominees)

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As I’ve been reading through Cybils Fiction Picture Book Nominees, I’ve found so many wonderful books that I’ve reached a point of realization: I will not get time to post on all of those that I have loved reading with Raisin. I have been trying to keep them in categories and I’ll keep doing so for a few more weeks. Keep in mind as you see the books I’ve mentioned below that these are only some of the many wonderful books about pets. In my next Cybils post, I’ll share some thoughts on books about some other animals.

In A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid (HarperCollins, January 2011), Petunia is determined to get her desired pet, a pet skunk, despite her parent’s advice against it. Of course, no amount of begging works, so Petunia sets out to find her own skunk … with an incredible surprise to Petunia! The book has delightfully simple illustrations – black sketches and a little bit of watercolor that bring Petunia and her environment to life. It’s a perfect illustration style for the simple and amusing story. (Nominated by John Schumaker)

In Reading to Peanut by Leda Schubert and illustrated by Amanda Haley (Holiday House, August 2011), Lucy is determined to learn to read and write so she can write a birthday card for her dog, Peanut! As  she learns her letters with help from her mom and dad, they also work on planting a vegetable garden. By the end of the summer, she’s learned to read and she can also make a vegetable treat for her dog. Acrylic pain, gouache, colored pencils, and pastel pencils give Lucy’s story life. Although something about this book didn’t work for me, Raisin loved it and wanted to read it again and again. He’s also learning to read, and he loved Lucy story, wishing for his own dog to read to. (Nominated by Kelly Bingham)

Charlie the basset hound is the laziest dog around, but not the way he tells his story in Charlie the Ranch Dog by Ree Drummond and illustrated by Diane deGroat (HarperCollins, April 2011). Charlie likes bacon, sleep, and eating and sleep, and while he takes credit for all the chores around the ranch, the illustrations help us see just how much Jack Russell Terrier Sally does instead of Charlie. The illustrations are gorgeous, and Charlie is an incredibly lovable dog, certain to win over the young reader. (Nominated by Christie)

Argus by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Andrea Wesson (Candlewick, February 2011) is about learning to be okay with being different, particularly when Sally has a very different kind of pet. From the first day when Sally got her assigned egg from her science teacher, she thought something was different. And when everyone else’s eggs hatched chicks, Sally’s hatched a dragon. Much as Sally tried, nothing could make Argus “normal.” It only took a tragedy for her to realize that she liked her pet that way. A fun way to learn the lesson that being different is just as good, even though it may be different. (Nominated by Marianna Baer)

My favorite part of Melvin and the Boy by Lauren Castillo (Henry Hold, March 2011) is its breath-taking lovely illustrations (acetone transfer with markers and watercolor), which so gently captures a boy and the wild turtle he’s adopted as his own. The boy has always wanted a pet, and when he sees a turtle at the park, he takes him home as his pet. But a turtle doesn’t do the things his friends’ pets do: go for walks, cuddle, and otherwise be a friend, ultimately leading the boy to decide to take the turtle back to his home in the park. The end of the book has some facts about turtles, and I was not surprised to see a note indicating that it’s illegal to take turtles out of their natural habits. In that sense, it was a strange book: the boy’s parents let him break the law? But, on the other hand, he learned that some animals belong in the wild, not in a home as a pet. (Nominated by Julia Sarcone-Roach)

No Dogs Allowed by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Kristin Sorra (Sterling, August 2011) is a mostly wordless story of a small café on a street corner where there are no dogs allowed. As one very unusual day progresses, the café owner finds that he must adapt the rule to include other animals, from cats to kangaroos and more. When he has no business and the ice cream and lemonade vendor in the center of the square has no more food to sell to the crowds of people with their pets, the café makes a change, much to everyone satisfaction. The illustrations transform the comic-like concept of the storyline into a work of art, and Raisin was vastly amused by the increasingly ridiculous animals gathering in the town square. The humor is in the many details. (Nominated by Jenn Bertman)

Wiener Wolf written and illustrated by Jeff Crosby (Hyperion, July 2011) features a friendly looking dachshund who is tired of the same old things as a pet at home with Granny, so he sets out in the world. His new friends are wolves, and at first it’s quite nice having new friends. But it only takes a few days before Wiener Wolf realizes he misses being Wiener Dog. The illustrations are gorgeous paintings. Although the wolf’s violence is off page, it’s still suggested, so this book may not be right for younger children. Never the less, Wiener Wolf is a gorgeous book about a dog finding his place: right back where he started, as a pet. (Nominated by Jennifer Keller)

What are your favorite picture books about pets?


Reviewed on November 2, 2011

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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