Sneaker the snake proves himself a lovable pet in this beginning reader.
Initially, Sneaker languishes in the pet store while other animals leave with new owners. When Pete purchases Sneaker, the pair enjoy each other’s company in a series of vignettes that mark the strongest point in the story. “He had fun with Pete. He played I Am a Necktie, I Am a Hat, and I Am Handcuffs,” reads the controlled text, which is accompanied by pictures of Sneaker contorting himself into the various items. When Pete goes to school, Sneaker hides in his backpack and ends up starring as the boy’s offering during show and tell. At first, Pete’s classmates are leery, but then “a brave girl” picks Sneaker up, and he’s suddenly a hit. Then, in an abrupt shift perhaps better suited to a separate book, Pete and Sneaker visit a pool. Sneaker is not welcomed there, either, since a sign reading “NO PETS” bars him from swimming, but all’s well that ends well when Sneaker rescues a child who falls into the pool. The lifeguard asks Sneaker to be his “helper,” and a closing scene shows the snake serving as lifeguard to a pool filled with pets of all stripes. Throughout, cartoonish illustrations reminiscent of Syd Hoff’s beginning-reader artwork reinforce the text, providing context clues and humor.
A worthy title for new readers. (Early reader. 5-7)