Unfriending: Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown
"OH, MY GOSH! YOU ARE THE CUTEST CRITTER IN THE WHOLE FOREST!
MOM! LOOK AT WHAT I FOUND! I CALL HIM SQUEAKER.
ISN'T HE THE CUTEST?
CAN I KEEP HIM?"
When the tutu-ed little bear Lucy brings home a human toddler and begs to keep him as a pet, her mom is definitely dubious.
"CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS!" SHE WARNS.
But Mom relents before Lucy's persistent pleas, and at first Lucy is quite taken with her cute little pet. Squeaker never tires of playing, and Lucy is thrilled.
But things quickly begin to go downhill with the pet training program. Squeaker does NOT respond to training. He throws tantrums, makes monstrous messes in the house, and resolutely refuses to visit his sandbox for the necessary, er, sanitary processes. Lucy is flummoxed with her failures to shape Squeaker's behavior to the requirements of her orderly home.
Finally, when Squeaker disappears, Lucy is at first relieved to be free of the 24/7 responsibility for her pet. But then, feeling a tiny twinge of guilt, she searches for him in the woods near where she found him, and in a clearing comes upon an unexpected scene. There is Squeaker, obviously happy to be back among his loving human family, picnicking in their backyard. Lucy sees that Squeaker is back where he belongs.
"GOODBYE, SQUEAKER," SHE WHISPERS.
Peter Brown's clever little Children Make Terrible Pets (Little, Brown, 2010) flips the found pet scenario to give children a different view of the whole "Can I Keep Him" theme, pointing out that sometimes some potential "pets" are happier in their own habitats. Brown's illustrations are simple but creatively stylized, with his brief text enlightened by thought and speech balloons adding to the unique design. Squeaker is limited to his basic "Squeak!" but Lucy's remarks succinctly show her thoughts as she thinks through her initial decision to bring home a "wild" pet. Kids will chuckle over the switch in roles but definitely get the message.