cover image Children Make Terrible Pets

Children Make Terrible Pets

Peter Brown, Little, Brown, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-01548-6

In this tongue-in-cheek role reversal, a girlish bear named Lucy makes a pet of a small boy. She declares him "the cutest critter in the whole forest" and begs her mother, "Can I keep him, please?" Her mother, unbearishly seated in a comfy chair and reading a book, delivers the title's sound advice, but allows Lucy to keep the boy. Brown (The Curious Garden) mimes the escalating challenges of animal care. The boy, who Lucy names Squeaker, "because he makes funny sounds," throws tantrums and will not use a litter box. Lucy is relieved when Squeaker escapes home, where his family enjoys a backyard picnic as though he had not been absent. Even though Brown's humans wear clothes and live in a house, they are basically squirrels: they all say "squeak" from the bears' POV, while the bears act like flummoxed babysitters: Lucy walks upright in a tutu, her mother wears a skirt and pearls, and their dialogue appears in prim construction-paper voice bubbles. Framed in wood-grain borders, the action takes place in an artificial outdoors and parodies those who are pushovers for exotic specimens. Ages 3–6. (Sept.)