September 22, 2011

Animal stories from Tradewind Books

by Virginia Frances Schwartz
illustrated by Christina Leist

Amos, a fat former alley-cat, narrates this wacky tale about life with a tailless, baby squirrel. Like a jealous sibling, Amos is not so happy about the attention that Nutz, as the squirrel is called, commands. His owners forget to feed him and blame him when Nutz makes a mess. The house is also overrun with seeds and nuts. So Amos tries everything he can to get rid of the squirrel.

Schwartz shows a good understanding of cat and squirrel behavior, especially in regard to sleep and food (particularly gizzards). Leist's cartoon-like squiggles also add to the fun. 

by Irene N. Watts
illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker

When Matthew moves from the country to the city, he has to leave his dog Lucky behind. Lucky can’t live with him because pets are not allowed in his new apartment. 

Matthew is lonely, so he invents an invisible dog to keep him company. He calls him Fred. Matthew enjoys playing with Fred, but the building manager is not so understanding. How Matthew and Fred change his mind is at the core of this short chapter book.

Kids will enjoy the drawings of Fred, who is depicted as large, soft and fluffy, with muted black and grey tones. They may have difficulty with the dialogue, which is a bit too long and formal. Less description and simpler words would have been better. However, readers will warm to Matthew, whose feelings are very authentic. Watts understands a child’s realistic imaginings; an ability that makes No Pets Allowed an enjoyable and entertaining book.

Both books are good for beginning readers aged 5-8.

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