Sparky! by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans
The ingenious author of 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore and a brilliant illustrator and production designer of the Coraline movie have created a hilarious, touching picture book perfect for young animal lovers. Like the Caldecott Medal-winning Officer Buckle and Gloria, Sparky stars a pet who has more to offer than meets the eye. When our narrator orders a sloth through the mail, the creature that arrives isn't good at tricks or hide-and-seek . . . or much of anything. Still, there's something about Sparky that is irresistible.
Matilda's Cat by Emily Gravett
This delightful picture book with Emily Gravett's signature twist ending sweetly depicts the relationship between a child and her beloved pet. Matilda is desperate to figure out what her cat will enjoy. She tries everything she can think of: climbing trees, playing with wool, even tea parties and dress-up games, but as Matilda gets more and more creative in her entertainment attempts, her cat moves from unimpressed to terrified. Will Matilda ever figure out what her cat likes? This young picture book is an insightful, fond, and funny look at the relationship between a little girl and her cat that's sure to strike a chord with anyone who's ever loved a pet.
I just love Matilda's Cat. It's the perfect kind of picture book. Beautiful drawings, humor, sweetness, and not too many words. I like my picture books short and sweet, the less words the better. It's the only way to finish an entire book with my nephew. I'm sure some of you can relate.
And speaking of pets, I just finished a lovely little (grown up) novel about a dog named Evie and what happens to her when her owner is sent to prison. It starts out light and humorous but eventually becomes a weighty family drama exploring the darker sides of jealousy and judgment. Really excellent.
We Think the World of You by J.R. Ackerley
We Think the World of You combines acute social realism and dark fantasy, and was described by J.R. Ackerley as “a fairy tale for adults.” Frank, the narrator, is a middle-aged civil servant, intelligent, acerbic, self-righteous, angry. He is in love with Johnny, a young, married, working-class man with a sweetly easygoing nature. When Johnny is sent to prison for committing a petty theft, Frank gets caught up in a struggle with Johnny’s wife and parents for access to him. Their struggle finds a strange focus in Johnny’s dog—a beautiful but neglected German shepherd named Evie. And it is she, in the end, who becomes the improbable and undeniable guardian of Frank’s inner world.