The Teacher's Pet by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora, is one of my favorite kind of books, one where the kids know better than the adult, but the adult is not presented as a buffoon. The student's in Mr. Stricter's class narrate the story, with understandable concern with Ohora's humor-filled illustrations bringing a retro feel to the book. I love Ohora's illustrations but, not wanting to give away too much about the surprise of the book, I haven't included too many illustrations here.
Black endpapers call to mind a blackboard where the life cycle of a frog has been drawn in chalk. Except for one small difference you have to make sure you don't miss. The Teacher's Pet begins, "On the day the science project hatched, our whole class was amazed. We'd never seen Mr. Stricter so excited. 'I always wanted a pet,' he said." Mr. Stricter tells his students they can keep one of the tadpoles for a class pet and they choose Mr. Stricter's. Even from the start, it's clear that Bruno is different from the other tadpoles. But Mr. Stricter is clearly delighted by this fast-growing creature who can do no wrong.
It is a treat watching as Mr. Stricter lavishes love on Bruno while his students struggle to cope. Things escalate quickly and the class needs to make a plan. But how can they convince Mr. Stricter? Some smart thinking in a moment of chaos on the part of the students saves the day and helps Mr. Stricter finally hear what they have been telling him all along - Bruno is not a good classroom pet. When the next science project comes along, hatching butterflies and releasing them into the wild, things get a little crazy again. But this time, the class knows exactly what to do!
While he didn't want to give away too much about The Teacher's Pet, he did say it is "also a love letter to Duvoisin's Veronica," sharing this picture on Twitter. Be sure not to miss Ohora's other books!
Source: Review Copy