cover image The Pet Shop Revolution

The Pet Shop Revolution

Ana Juan. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-12810-0

A gloomy story of neglect gets turned on its head, thanks to a determined girl who stands up to an awful pet shop owner. The shopkeeper, Mr. Walnut, is a comically tragic antihero with his potbelly, powdered wig, and absurd facial hair—a black plastic comb of a mustache and enormous crescent moon eyebrows. But he terrifies the townspeople, and the animals in his store are miserable: “they all looked out of their small steel cages with sadness in their eyes.” When Mina’s rabbit disappears, she suspects Mr. Walnut is to blame, and she engineers a rescue of the entire menagerie, delighting the town and enraging the vain Mr. Walnut. Readers have come to expect surprises and delights from Juan (The Elephant Wish), and this story offers both—she has fun teasing out similarities between the animals and the town’s residents (in one scene, a penguin and a dapper, slouchy mayor eye each other bashfully), and her characters burst with emotion. The happy ending—even for poor, ridiculous Mr. Walnut—compensates for some upsetting scenes and imagery. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)