cover image Pet Boy

Pet Boy

Keith Graves, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $12.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-2672-3

It takes a trip to outer space and a case of role reversal to give a boy bored with his pets some perspective. One day, while searching for ever-more-novel animals, pet-collector Stanley is petnapped himself by an evil, turquoise-hued trader and sold to Jopnar, a three-eyed alien boy. After a failed escape attempt lands Stanley in the pound (""where strays not claimed by end of day/ are soon to be extinct""), Jopnar arrives in the nick of time to free the boy and his caged mates. He sends Stanley home, properly repentant and ready to treat his pets with greater respect. Using the same dark yet luminescent palette of his debut Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance, Graves paints a pleasantly demented universe. Stanley resembles a long, skinny pencil eraser with spectacles, alien spaceships appear to be manufactured from old battleship parts and the evil trader's pants expose a little too much of his aqua rear end. In spite of its sometimes bumpy verse, the narrative picks up speed and inventiveness as the story builds to a climax. Ages 3-up. (Mar.)