Colette’s family moves to Montreal’s Mile End, and her mother tells her, “For the last time, NO PET,” before shooing her outside to explore the neighborhood.
Colette angrily kicks a box over a fence, goes to retrieve it, and meets some boys who introduce themselves and ask her what she’s doing. After some hesitation, she timidly says that she’s lost her pet, a parakeet, and the boys set out to help her find it, enlisting more help as they go, until the search party consists of five little white boys and girls including Colette, a brown-skinned girl of unspecified ethnicity, an Asian girl, a black boy, and a little black cat. When asked how they might identify the bird, Colette spins a grandiose tale, saying that her parakeet, Marie-Antoinette, is so big that she flies her on adventures to Paris, Japan, the desert, the sea, and the jungle. Her mother calls her in, and Colette turns to go, but the kids are full of questions about her bird, and she promises to tell them more tomorrow. Do they believe her, or is it just great fun to pretend? Arsenault’s illustrations are done in black on white with bursts of bright yellow and occasional washes of pale blue, using pencil, watercolor, and ink in various textures to form a sweet style reminiscent of vintage illustrators Cynthia Amrine and Bill Sokol.
Arsenault’s story has the feel of a campfire song, increasingly fun and outrageous until the joyful end and its promise of new friendships. (Picture book. 3-7)