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The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson, 64 pp, RL 3




Victoria Jamieson is the author of the superb, Newbery Honor winner this year, Roller Girl. With her newest graphic novel, Pets on the Loose: The Great Pet Escape, Jamieson shifts from the rough and tumble world of roller derby to the dangerous lives of classroom pets. Jamieson's bright palette, way with edgy but cute creatures and attention to details make Pets on the Loose a treat to read - one you will want to read over and over while waiting for the sequel.


Before we get to chapter one, we get a close up look at the grim life of the narrator, a hamster who has been imprisoned for three months, two weeks and one day in a second grade classroom. Captured along with his friends Biter, a guinea pig, and Barry, a rabbit, GW (short for George Washington, something he is deeply embarassed by) has been plotting their escape. He has invented the Sunflower Slingshot (and there is a hilarious illustration of GW playing the sweet class pet, happily taking a sunflower from the fingers of a student) and the Rodent Catapult Transportation Device.
Once the kids are gone and the lights are off, GW is a different creature. The scenes of GW preparing for a jail break are fantastic and filled with little details, like bobby pins with pretty flowers on them, and the knit cap that GW dons. Sadly, busting out of his cage and then getting Biter and Barry free is not the liberating experience GW imagined. Barry, who has been living in a first grade classroom, has gone a little soft, tucking the toys in for the night and reading them a bedtime story. And Biter? Life in the kindergarten classroom seems to have sent him over the edge. When GW and Barry find him he's singing the theme song from the Barney show and sitting, happily in an unlocked cage!

Things go from bad to worse, including a run-in with Lucinda, the fifth grade pet (a snake) and her minions, the fourth grade pets (white mice) as well as the janitor and a bucket of filthy water. The climax finds the class pets in a very colorful food fight and imprisonment in a ring of green jello. The friends end up back in their cages, ready to plot their takeover of the school from Lucinda and her minions - after they take a nap...

Source: Purchased

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