cover image Third Grade Pet

Third Grade Pet

Judy Cox. Holiday House, $15.95 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1379-9

The fresh and credible voices that Cox (Now We Can Have a Wedding!) attributes to her young characters give this brief, quick-moving novel plenty of life. When her teacher announces that the class can adopt a pet, Rosemary decides, ""Any pet would do. So long as it wasn't a rat."" Much to her horror, that's exactly what the class adopts. But as Rosemary gets to know ""Cheese,"" she has a change of heart that may well reassure youngsters who harbor similar fears about animals. Cox treats readers to a number of funny moments, as when Rosemary, determined to keep the rat away from her nemesis (who has referred to the class pet as ""cat bait""), smuggles it home under her sweater; later that afternoon on a trip to get her braces tightened, the pet escapes and terrifies her orthodontist. The author also interjects some endearing asides between Rosemary and her toddler brother, Spot, as when she hides Cheese in her room and Spot spots him: ""Me wants Mousey."" Short sentences, funny quips and ample lighthearted art make this a smooth read--and a good choice for less-than-eager readers. Ages 7-11. (Dec.)