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Children Make Terrible Pets    by Peter Brown order for
Children Make Terrible Pets
by Peter Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2010 (2010)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

With such a clever name for a book, I had a reasonably high expectation for a cute storyline, and I was not disappointed.

In a twist on a familiar theme, a little bear finds a child in the woods and takes him home, asking his mom, 'Please can I keep him?' The mother bear protests, saying that children make terrible pets, but to no avail: the cub begs and pleads, until finally, he gets her consent.

The little bear promises to take good care of the child, whom he names Squeaker because that is how his voice sounds to the bear. Just like a child who has found a stray animal, the two form a strong bond; they play together, sleep together, eat together, etc.. Of course, there is a flip side to pet ownership/parenting: he is strong-willed, he won't potty-train (maybe that's because the bear puts the boy in a litter box), he destroys the furniture, etc..

One day, though, the little boy is nowhere to be found. The bear finally locates him with his human family and realizes, with a tear, that the boy does not belong with him. He goes home and tells his mother that she was right: children really DO make terrible pets. (On the last page, though the bear falls in love with an elephant ... so you know the pattern will be repeated).

The illustrations are adorable; each page is set out as if in a picture frame, and the author effectively used his pencils to create soft-toned, very expressive characters. The book is an homage to animals (and a wink to parents about the frustrations of parenting) as it teaches not only respect for all creatures but reiterates the old adage, 'if you love something, set it free.'

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