Review: A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid
Playing opposites is a common occurrence in children’s literature. Little Pea, Bedtime for Mommy, and Children Make Terrible Pets are but a few recent examples of a concept with a long history. The act of reversing expectations can be delightful (and often hilarious) stuff for youngsters. A Pet for Petunia takes this contrary approach and applies it to a little girl pining for a new pet (itself a familiar childhood experience). The results are not to be missed.
There is one thing Petunia wants. A cute little pet skunk. She begs her parents for one, promising to provide walks and litter box duty for her pet-to-be. Petunia’s request is denied on account of, you know, the terrible smell. Our heroine, convinced her parents are crazy, flees for the woods in hopes of changing her their minds. There she runs into an honest-to-goodness skunk…and learns what her parents were talking about. The final page, introducing a porcupine as Petunia’s next fixation, will leave readers grinning.
The simple text and broad humor make A Pet for Petunia a prime read aloud candidate. As I was reading, I found myself working out how I would deliver the text to a group of kids. I took this to be a good sign.
The spare illustrations give off a simple, childish vibe that suits the story well. Negative space plays a key role, with minimal backgrounds and plenty of white space. The color palatte is a limited purple, black, and gold.
Really, isn’t the unexpected more fun? A Pet for Petunia proves it.Â This is a book you should get your hands on.
Review copy from publisher
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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