Thursday, May 8, 2014
Sparky! Written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans. Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House. 2014. $18.99 ages 3 and up
Begging for a new pet has never been so funny!
We know from the get-go, because of her very direct explanation to the audience, that this is a young woman who has good reason for wanting a pet. She doesn't mind what kind. Her mother is disagreeable; she refuses any kind of pet. As you can see above, her ultimatum leads her daughter to a library trip and her introduction to 'the sloth'.
When the sloth finally arrives by express mail, she must wait two days beside its tree limb perch for it to wake up, following its extremely tiring travels. There are many things to teach a new pet. She sets out to find compatible games for them to play. It's a tough task for Sparky to win any of them...well, perhaps Statues. They are patient and persistent together. All learning, for both girl and pet, must happen at Sparky's pace.
Her friend Mary Potts is unimpressed with Sparky and his purpose as a pet, and doesn't mind making her feelings known. Feeling defensive and wanting to show Sparky in the best light, our young pet owner announces a "Trained Sloth Extravaganza" to prove his prowess. Of course, Mary remains unconvinced. In the end, it matters not. Sparky is loved, and that is all that counts.
Kids are sure to be captured by the gentle watercolor artwork, rendered in tones of blue, brown and gray. Sparky is a soulful companion, lounging on his tree limb for the bulk of the story's action. He is quite adorable, in fact. Humorous and full of heart, this is a story that will become a favorite for many readers. A terrific addition to your collection of pet books!