Yet another author/illustrator featured in my Best Picture Books of 2009 post has come out with a new book this year that is worth reading! Peter Brown, who wrote and illustrated the gorgeous book based on the real life story of the High Line Elevated Railway in NCY, The Curious Garden, has written the hilarious new book, Children Make Terrible Pets.
Brown's illustrations definitely have a retro feel to them. The Curious Garden feels a bit like a magical walk through a simpler time, the 1950s, maybe. The crisp, bright colors are inviting and enchanting at the same time. With Children Make Terrible Pets, Brown continues the retro feel, this time conjuring up memories of Saturday Morning Cartoons or the Funnies. Don't get me wrong, though, Lucy Bear is no Yogi - or Boo Boo, for that matter.
Lucy is a bear with a great sense of smell and a big heart who finds a little boy in the woods one day. She tries to communicate with him, but all he says is, "Squeak!" So, she names him Squeaker, scoops him up and takes him home. Her mother, of course, takes issue with this, but relents as long as Lucy agrees to take full responsibility for her new pet, which of course she does. Things go well at first, they always do. Lucy and squeaker are inseparable.
But, things take a turn for the worse. Squeaker is hard to potty train. For this page, there is a great illustration of Squeaker standing in the corner of a litter box with a very unhappy look on his face. And, he ruins the furniture and trashes Lucy's tea party. Then, Squeaker disappears. Lucy looks everywhere for him, including in the dishwasher, but he is nowhere to be found. Finally, after searching all through the forest, Lucy spots Squeaker. He is with more Squeakers at a picnic table and they are all squeaking. Lucy realizes that this is where her pet really belongs and she has a lot to think about on her way home. When she gets home she shares her experience with her mother, who holds her on her lap and they both agree that children make terrible pets. The final page of the book shows a gleeful Lucy back out in the woods where she spies another potential pet - and this one has a trunk...