cover image My Favorite Pets: By Gus W. for Ms. Smilinski’s Class

My Favorite Pets: By Gus W. for Ms. Smilinski’s Class

Jeanne Birdsall, illus. by Harry Bliss. Knopf, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-385-75570-2

Birdsall (the Penderwicks series) goes straight for hilarity in a story framed as a boy’s school assignment, with Bliss (Grandma in Blue with Red Hat) as an inspired coconspirator. Gus has a flock of 17 sheep, a healthy dose of curiosity, and parents who can’t quite keep up with him. His composition for Ms. Smolinski’s class, which appears in penciled handwriting across Bliss’s supremely goofy spreads, investigates his sheep and their interactions with the human world. Gus records his flock’s ability to understand language (“A girl sheep is a ewe. If you say, ‘Hey, Ewe,’ she won’t answer”), their dislike of small spaces (“You can’t put them into a car”), and some fashion notes. “Sheep look silly with pajamas on their heads,” he writes, memorializing the dazed face of his victim with his cell phone camera. When Gus brings the whole flock into the house, total ovine chaos ensues (“You can tell them it’s your little brother’s fault. You will get sent to your room anyway”). It’s a wooly stampede of guffaws all the way. Ages 3–7. [em]Author’s agent: Barbara Kouts, Barbara Kouts Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (July) [/em]