What Henry wants most in the world is a dog, which he’s convinced will be the Perfect Pet for him. So he places an ad in the papers — as you do — to seek one with floppy ears, a waggy tail, a cold wet nose and a furry tongue, and who can do fantastic tricks.
Reminiscent of Margaret Wise Brown and Leonard Weisgard’s Noisy Book series from the ’30s-’50s, Kevin Henkes has adopted the simple, direct and child-friendly style of writing in the refreshingly quirky Circle Dogs that takes us through a day in the life of a pair of pet dachshunds.
The Wimbledons are sleeping when Wilma hears a spooky sound. As Walter discovers, it’s just Stanley, their dog, howling at the moon — no biggie, right? Well, that’s what you’d think until, one by one, their kids (Wendy, Willie, Wanda and Wylie — don’t you just love the alliterative names?) too get woken up by Stanley’s increasingly odd endeavours — fixing the oil tank and making catfish stew, among other things.
When the Primms move into an old Victorian brownstone, they get more than they bargained for when they discover Lyle, an old performing crocodile, in the bathtub. Despite some misgivings, Lyle soon wins them over and becomes part of the family.
If you’re looking for a regular pet that will, say, chase a ball, fetch a stick or catch a frisbee, a rhino is probably not your best bet.
One of the reasons why I love reading classic picture books is that they are usually refreshingly unpredictable. Also, they weren’t afraid to be a little politically incorrect sometimes, which made for highly original and entertaining stories.
A picture can speak a thousand words, as the saying goes, but it’s often woefully inadequate when it comes to representing people and all the qualities — both their good and less desirable attributes — that make them who they are.
Like many kids, the unnamed boy in Melvin and the Boy longs to have a pet — especially when it seems like all the other children in the neighbourhood have one. But just when he thinks he’s found the perfect pet — a little turtle that he brings home from the park and which he names Melvin — in spite of his best intentions, things don’t turn out according to plan.