cover image If I Had a Raptor

If I Had a Raptor

George O’Connor. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6012-3

’Twas ever thus: a baby critter seems like the perfect pet, but then it keeps growing and things get... awkward. It’s especially true with O’Connor’s theoretical raptor, who goes from “teensy and tiny and funny and fluffy” to a fierce predator with alarming green eyes who, in the right mood, might consider its seemingly oblivious owner a potential meal. A master cartoonist who strikes an ideal balance between visual sophistication and warmth, O’Connor (the Olympians series) does wonderful things with the gap between the hopes and dreams of the narrator, a small girl with wonderfully expressive pigtails, and the reality of pet ownership. “No matter how late she stays up,” says the girl, “my raptor would wake me up nice and early.” The picture tells another story: the alarm clock reads 4:36, and the girl is reluctantly roused from her sleep by the now full-size raptor, who tears at the blankets, catlike, with some ferocious-looking claws. Love does conquer all—although it’s salubrious for both parties that the raptor wears a large and noisy bell around its neck. Ages 3–7. (May)