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Review: Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

Children Make Terrible Pets
By Peter Brown
Little, Brown
ISBN: 97803160145486
Grades K-2
In Stores

A funny, uniquely illustrated “What is this?” of a book, Children Make Terrible Pets is just the sort of creative ridiculousness that a large category of kids tend to gravitate toward.

Our story begins when the tutu-wearing bear Lucy finds a pet. Actually, this pet is a child (whom Lucy names “Squeaker”), but our heroine is infatuated nonetheless. After convincing mom to let her keep the boy, the pair are inseparable. It soon becomes clear, however, that Squeaker is more trouble than Lucy thought (messy, impossible to potty train, etc.). When the boy goes missing and Lucy finds him back at home with his family, she says goodbye before admitting to her mom that children do indeed make terrible pets.

The role-reversal of child and animal provides ample opportunities for humor, as the over-the-top Lucy smothers Squeaker like so many real-world kids have done to Guinea pigs and hamsters. This change in perspective will allow many pet-crazy readers to laugh at themselves a bit – not something you see often in picture books.

The artwork stands out as some of the most unique of 2010. Brown uses pencil on paper and adds hand-made touches throughout. The illustrations are cut out and placed on top of a variety of woods, creating different boarders on each page. Word bubbles are hand-written with pencil on construction paper, then cut out and placed in the scene. It’s lovely, interesting work.

Kids will delight in putting themselves in Lucy’s shoes. A book that stands out from the pack.

Review copy purchased.

This book is nominated for a Cybils award in the fiction picture books category.

Watch Peter Brown explain the creation of Children Make Terrible Pets (courtesy of @MrSchuReads)

Look inside Children Make Terrible Pets:

Read an interview with Peter Brown at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I love this book. read it to second graders the other day and they thought it was hysterical.

  2. I love this one, too. Good, good stuff. (That’s not a very profound statement, but I haven’t had coffee yet. Not that I *normally* speak profoundly anyway.)


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