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CLASS PETS by Frank Asch


Battle in a Bottle

by Frank Asch & illustrated by John Kanzler

Age Range: 7 - 11

Pub Date: June 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-689-84655-X
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Mice siblings Jake and Molly are looking for a home, and Miss Clark’s classroom is as inviting as anywhere else. But Jake is not so sure he wants to be confined to a cage. Set in the friendly and familiar confines of a classroom, Asch’s tale turns confusing when he introduces more characters than the average new reader can keep up with: Gino, the ghost hamster with X-ray vision; Gerald, the hermit crab; Peaches, the current pet mouse; Prince and Princess, the lovebirds; and Big Gray, the cat who terrorizes all of them. With rather esoteric references for an early chapter book (ectoplasm, cauldron of emotional soup, murderous snare, slaves to the vast breeding machine), this becomes more difficult to follow as it slowly moves toward the inevitable battle of its title. While it’s one thing to imagine class pets having after-hours adventures, it’s a little harder to imagine them cavorting with a ghost from Hamster Heaven, employing the use of X-ray vision, and being rescued from a ketchup bottle prison by a homeless boy who just happens to be in Miss Clark’s room. Disappointing. (Fiction. 7-11)