Thursday, December 27, 2018

Choices, Choices! Can I Keep It? by Lisa Jobe

What boy wouldn't want a squirrel for a pet? Those bright eyes, that fluffy, quirky tail....

But Mom takes a longer view of pet ownership.

"Squirrels like to climb trees and gather acorns," she says.

If you were a squirrel, where would you want to live?"

She's right, the boy thinks as he climbs the tree, and he frees the squirrel from his box-and-stick-and-red string deadfall trap.

He ties the stick with the red string to a dip net and SCHLOOPS up a frog from the pond.

"Mom, if a frog follows me home, can I keep him?"

Mom points out that frogs like to live where they can splish-splash in the pond. The boy puts on his goggles and goes underwater for a frog's-eye view. If he were a frog, where would he like to live?

The same thing happens when he rigs a beat-up old cage to catch a bird. Mom's idea is that the mama bird would probably rather live with her three babies in their nest. Of course, she would.

The boy frees the bird, just as he notices something is playing with the other end of his red string.


It hits him instantly.

If I were a stray cat, where would I want to live?

What cat wouldn't want to live with a kindly boy, in Lisa Jobe's lovely forthcoming story of finding just the right pet, Can I Keep It? (Page Street Kids, 2019).

Although Mom is never completely shown in Lobe's illustrations, her emphasis on thinking from the potential pet's point of view introduces the element of empathy to the pet dilemma. Mom obviously has a long view of the scene as well, with a crooked-tailed orange cat visible in the background of many of the pictures, clearly waiting in the wings as the best pet yet for her boy. Youngsters will love going back to track the cat as it edges closer and closer and will rejoice in the final two-page spread in which the cat snoozes at home on the boy's bed, right where he longed to be all along.

Often the best pets are the ones that choose you, says Lisa Lobe, in a well-conceived and well-executed story with delightful and witty mixed media illustrations and a moving theme of making wise choices for yourself and for others.

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