cover image Colette’s Lost Pet

Colette’s Lost Pet

Isabelle Arsenault. Random House, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-553-53659-1

When neighborhood newcomer Colette ventures into the adjoining yard, her neighbors Albert and Tom ask her what she’s doing. She tells a little lie: “I lost my pet.” When the boys ask if it’s a dog or cat, she invents again: “It’s a bird... a parakeet.” Arsenault (You Belong Here) gives the story the feel of a graphic novel for young readers, with smudgy, friendly panels and speech balloons accented with parakeet yellow and blue. With every embellishment Colette adds to her story (she names her pet Marie-Antoinette, “like the princess”), the children’s concern grows, and more searchers appear. When Colette’s inventions enter mythic territory (“We’ve been to the desert... and sailed the sea”), the others don’t chide her but join right in: “Does your parakeet play soccer, too?” It’s not Colette’s behavior that Arsenault holds up as exemplary, but that of her new friends. They welcome Colette and don’t shame her for making up stories that they understand come from nervousness. Most fibbing stories end with an abashed moment of coming clean; this one ends with a request for more make-believe. Ages 3–7. [em]Agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency. (May) [/em]