Masterson encourages readers to think outside the terrarium in this cartoonishly illustrated picture book about an ill-advised pet.
Bobby's sister Sue thinks the snake her brother brings home is a fake, until it starts moving. Instantly, she demands he return it, but Bobby can't take it back: "Here's my receipt, and as you can see, / The store has a / Final sale! No return policy." After the snake tries to eat their cat, Sue threatens Bobby—it's either the snake or her and the cat. When he reluctantly chooses his sister and cat over his new pet, he discovers that he's going to have more trouble placing his pet in a new home than he imagined—a realistic problem for kids who bring home pets they shouldn't. The zoo doesn't need a new snake, and Bobby's friends are unwilling to take it. But rather than come to any conclusions, Bobby and Sue turn to the readers for help. On the final page of the story, they implore readers to send suggestions to the author via email. There's no mention of what the author will do with reader suggestions, however, and parents may be wary of letting their children email a stranger. Still, encouraging readers to come up with their own endings to the story is a fantastic way to engage them, and the cartoonish drawings, with the sly snake—his facial expressions as well as the cat's are wonderfully entertaining—have wonderful appeal (though the all-white cast is short on diversity). The glossary will help newly independent readers with some of the more challenging words, and the serviceable rhymes may amuse, though not quite charm, the lap-reading crowd. The story could also serve as a prompt for a class project for early elementary students, discussing appropriate pets and coming up with creative solutions to the final problem.
This cleverly illustrated picture book will have readers pondering their own endings and possibly inventing further adventures for Bobby and Sue.
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