Although second-grader Suzannah loves pets, she can’t have one in her apartment, so the new Shelter Pet Squad sounds like the perfect alternative.
Second- to sixth-graders visit the shelter every Saturday to do nice things for the pets. With a careful eye toward realism, Lord has the shelter staff keep a believable distance between many of the animals and the children. The Squad creates clever treats for the dogs and cats and provides other simple services. Suzannah feels an abiding need to make sure that Jelly Bean, a guinea pig new to the shelter, finds a good home, adding a small level of tension to the narrative. The group participates in helping her make that happen by writing a letter to the teachers at their school. Text is widely spaced, and chapters are brief. McGuire’s realistic half- and full-page black-and-white illustrations of wide-eyed children and winsome pets nicely capture the generally upbeat mood. Advice on how to provide assistance to animal shelters—things children can readily accomplish—as well as instructions for the crafts in the book, information about guinea pigs (with the suggestion to visit the library for more information) and a pledge for honorary Pet Squad members are all included as backmatter.
Pet lovers will enjoy this brief, quietly attractive series opener. (Fiction. 6-8)