The date is October 10, 10/10! Twins Becket Branch and her brother Nicholas Branch are about to celebrate their birthday, the big Ten-O, their first birthday at Blackberry Farm.
"THAT'S SOME UNBEATABLE, UNREPEATABLE BIRTHDAY LUCK AND WE'VE JUST GOT TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT!" SAYS THE EBULLIENT BECKET.
While his sister Becket plans another spectacular birthday bash, Nicholas, the introvert, would prefer a Mellow 'Cello playlist and definitely no ball games or sparklers in the cake this year, thank you! But although he seems to be anticipating all the ways parties can go wrong, especially with guest Travis and his SuperSquid Squirty on the guest list, he kindly goes along with his twin's plan to invite the whole class.
But the other good news about this birthday is that their parents have told them that they can adopt a new pet from the Rescue Center. Becket wants a lively dog, but Nicholas favors a nice quiet cat. But Mom and Dad have a solution: They can pick one of each!
Outside the pet shelter, Becket runs in happy circles, panting and chanting...
"DOG! DOG! DOG!"
Nicholas whispers quietly to no one in particular...
"I CAN'T BELIEVE IT. A CAT! FOR ME!"
The twins go home with their new pets in their new carriers, Becket seeing herself romping with the dog she names Dibs, while Nicholas is dreaming of quiet evenings with Given the cat calmly curled up and snoozing to the soft sounds of Mellow Cello playing in his room.
Things are not always what they seem. Fate has determined that Dibs the dog is a Fraidy Cat, who can't let Becket out of his sight without howling: he quivers when he hears Dad's big voice, and hides his head when Becket's friend tries to take a snapshot of her new pet. Meanwhile, Nicholas discovers that Given is a photogenic and extroverted feline, posing happily for Becket's friend who uses the pictures as advertisements for the school carnival. When Becket searches for her twin, she finds him secretly hiding with a pillow and book in the bathtub with Dibs quietly sleeping beside him.
NICHOLAS SIGHS. "THERE'S TOO MUCH FUSS AROUND GIVEN. TRAVIS HAD EVEN SAID, 'MY CAT IS TOO COOL FOR ME!'"
"HE'S RIGHT. I THINK GIVEN IS BRAVE AND FUN. THE TROUBLE IS, I THOUGHT MY VERY OWN CAT WOULD BELONG TO ME. BUT GIVEN THRIVES ON BEING WITH LOTS OF PEOPLE."
"WELL," BECKET ADMITTED, "DIBS DOESN'T WANT TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH ANYONE. HE'S SHY AND HARD TO TRAIN, TOO!"
The mismatch is obvious. The twins are afraid that they have made the wrong pet choices. But when both of the pets disappear, the twins discover them safely watching over each other and realize that perhaps between them and their two pets, together they have a perfect match after all, in Adele Griffin's latest Blackberry Farm story, All Pets Allowed: Blackberry Farm 2, illustrated lovingly by Caldecott artist LeUyen Pham, (Workman/Algonquin Books, 2021). In this second book in their series, one that celebrates what Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby called "a good, sticking-together family," middle readers see differences resolve into an advantage for all. As the Branch family says, "Many Branches, one tree!"
Adele Griffen and LeUyen Pham's first collaboration in this series is The Becket List: A Blackberry Farm Story.