We are well into our second week of our American sojourn in the Big-D and as part of my total vacation -assimilation plan (I’ve also taken to applying several more coats of mascara and using “y’all” as part of my general lexicon) I’ve chosen another Brooklyn-based book author/illustrator to celebrate (there really does seem to be a children’s book author hub there…)
Hey, I’m on vacation I can’t do a ton of research. My brain simply won’t allow it.
I really love the hilarious turnaround of Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown (ISBN: 97803160145486, Little Brown, 2010) and can’t help but think of the irony of it as I read it to my own children.
You see, like most young (ish) couples in love, my husband and I tried our hand at pets before we dared to foray into the world of children. It doesn’t take much grey matter to realize that most couples do this to test the waters and to test each other.
Neil came with a most loveable pit bull Harley and I got Harry the Hound soon after we got together. And we’ve cared for beta fish, hermit crabs and I can honestly say we did fairly well with the notable exception of the whole “baby frog rescue” debacle I tried to talk the hubby out of.
In this hilariously silly book, Lucy the tutu-wearing twirling bear is the “caretaker” and Squeaker is an adorable little J Crew-clad boy who is her “pet”. Despite her mother’s sage warnings that “children make terrible pets”, Lucy loves Squeaker and really tries to take care of him.
As you expected this leads to disastrous results because children really aren’t meant to be pets are they?
I love the stylish retro-styled illustrations and the absurdity of the story. It’s a wonderful lesson for children (and husbands) on leaving nature where it belongs and the perils of loving their pets a little too much (it will help you to reduce the cringe-worthy squeezes and hugs to the little tyke’s hamster or the Bichon Frise) and a cleverly-veiled warning for parents on procreating (just kidding!)
Children will love the role-reversal of the human being the pet and the fun and colourful drawings and adult readers will chuckle and cluck with recognized satire and quite frankly Lucy’s mother’s penchant for pearls despite this being a no-top bear family!
Personally, I’ve loved Brown’s work from The Curious Garden and adore Chowder love any guy who illustrates his own image with a unibrow (he doesn’t have one in real life) on the book jacket. He’s so talented and his work so imagination-inspiring and really fun to read.
I also love that he was identified as a talented artist in school and encouraged by his educators towards art and shares this story (and some of his early artwork) with kids when he makes school presentations hoping it will inspire young fertile minds to pursue their passions.
Learn more about his life and work on his website and if anyone wants to get his immigration papers going I am TOTALLY behind you.
We’ll just have to be sure not to smother him. Wild frogs and bears can teach you some lessons.