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Thursday, August 28, 2014

If I Had a Raptor, written and illustrated by George O'Connor. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2014. $18.00 ages 4 and up

"A baby raptor is so teensy
and tiny that she would be
easy to lose.
I'd give her a little bell
so I could always find her.


There you are!"

Aren't puppies cute? Aren't kittens precious? Aren't babies priceless? Of course, they are! Wouldn't it be wonderful if they stayed that way? Growing can result in unexpected concerns for all. Remember your three year old? Your fourteen year old? We are shown in this tale of pet ownership just how easily things can go awry.

When she spots a cardboard box offering 'free raptors', the pigtailed, jaunty little girl is joyous. A baby raptor is chosen and toted home...'all teensy and tiny and funny and fluffy.' Are you thinking what I'm thinking? An attached bell helps keep the raptor from getting itself lost; it does nothing to stop it from growing at exponential speed. As it grows, the audience watches the gleam in its green and beady eyes. What might it have in mind for its young owner?

So much of the story's enjoyment is visual. Using pencil and watercolor, and some digital tweakery, George O'Connor offers up a story of pet ownership that could have ominous repercussions if it weren't for the self-assured stance of its high-spirited young owner. She appears to have no concerns about a predator that might have ulterior motives for remaining captive. While the words tell one story, the illustrations tell another. Plenty of white space keeps us focused on the two characters, always aware of both perspectives on the joys of having a pet to love.

Being awake early in the morning has never been such fun! What a way to start the day...


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