Sheena Dempsy's new book, Bruno & Titch: A Tale of a Boy and His Guinea Pig, is a wonderful story about bringing home a first pet (and the interesting ideas kids sometimes have about how to best care for that pet) and also a fantastic book featuring the (somewhat) underrepresented guinea pig! Be sure not to miss a short list of other picture and chapter books featuring this furry pet at the end of the review!
Dempsy's illustrations drew me to Bruno & Titch: A Tale of a Boy and His Guinea Pig instantly. Her style reminds me of a cross between Janet Ahlberg, of Jolly Postman fame and Felicia Bond, best known for her illustrations in the Mouse Cookie Books. Dempsy's illustrations are packed with tiny details, from a Lego brick to handmade mobiles hanging in Bruno's window to the curling measuring tape that appears on a handful of pages. Her faded pastel palette takes the edge off some of the tension in the story as well.
Titch and Bruno are clearly made for each other. As we see in the illustrations that precede the title page, Bruno has been busy making guinea pigs out of graph paper and tape and Titch has been making people out of the hay un his cage. The two seem made for each other! And, while Bruno is clearly a thinker and a planner and even an experimenter who loves his new pet, he also treats Titch like, well, a guinea pig. For his contraptions and experiments.
Three guinea pig months (or 24 human hours) later, Titch is doing his best to adapt to his new life with Bruno, which includes eating pancakes and taking baths, just like Bruno. But, Titch finds he doesn't always like what Bruno likes. He doesn't like the "Bouncing-Very-High-Game" or the "Very-Scary-Balloon-Game" and especially not the "Going-Very-Fast-Game." Dempsy's illustrations of these pages are superb, Titch's eyes bulging a bit more with each game. Just when Titch is sure that Bruno has tired of him, he gets the best surprise of all - Bruno has built him a "guinea-pig palace," taking the best parts of all the scary games and making the perfect home for Titch.
Sheena Dempsy is also the author and illustrator of Bye-Bye Baby Brother, which I have to get my hands on!
Other great Guinea Pig Picture Books:
I Love Guinea Pigs by Dick King-Smith is both story and guide to the care of guinea pigs with charming illustrations by Anita Jeram.
Cynthia Rylant's books about Little Whistle, a guinea pig who lives in a toy store where the toys come to life at night, are magical and endearing.
Guinea Pig Chapter Books:
Don't miss Pee Wee's Tale and the sequel, Pee Wee & Plush, both by Johanna Hurwitz, about the adventures of a pet guinea pig who finds himself homeless in Central Park., both by Johanna Hurwitz, about the adventures of a pet guinea pig who finds himself homeless in Central Park.
And, of course, there is Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter Reynolds.
Patrick Jennings, author of a favorite picture book of mine, Bat and Rat, illustrated by the wonderful Matthew Cordell, is also the author of the Guinea Dog books!
And don't miss the Guinea Pigs Online series by Jennifer Gray and Amanda Swift.
Source: Review Copy