A young boy tries to get himself a pet in this picture book.
The story opens with a double-page spread of a boy trapping a squirrel using a propped-up cardboard box. The boy’s expression is hopeful as he asks, “Mom, if a squirrel follows me home, can I keep it?” This is a bending of the truth that isn’t so much cute as it is the second display of the boy’s questionable role modeling for readers. Mom, whose face readers never see, tells her son that squirrels like to climb trees and gather acorns. The boy gets the point and lets the squirrel go, even gathering it some acorns. (Against seasonal logic, the ripe acorns are shown on the same tree as a bird’s nest containing eggs.) The boy tries this gig twice more with a frog and a bird, and with each his mother reminds him where the animal would be happiest. Meanwhile, a stray cat has been following the boy throughout, and the story ends as the boy finally gets a pet that has genuinely followed him home. Author/illustrator Jobe’s watercolor, gouache, pastel, and digitally collaged illustrations inventively utilize negative and positive space—and kudos for the unusual viewpoints presented—but their clinical precision, as well as the faceless mother, gives the story a rather sterile ambiance. Both boy and mother present white.
Dubious activities are paired with sophisticated but emotionally detached illustrations. (Picture book. 5-8)