In Bashir’s debut children’s book, a little dog struggles with his unusual name.
Petey Pots and Pans is a Chihuahua with an odd appellation, even for a dog. He lives with his human owners and another canine named Ducky Bobby. One day, he comes home “very upset from school,” and over the next few days, he endeavors to avoid going back. At the same time, he refuses to tell Ducky Bobby or his parents what the matter is. Finally, he admits that “[a]ll the kids at school laugh when the teacher calls my name.” His human “mama” comforts him, and tells him a story about a little boy with an unusual name who grew up to become president of the United States. The story apparently refers to President Barack Obama, although it never clearly spells the reference out. Kids who are familiar with the current president will be delighted to make the connection, but later generations may not see it as readily, so Petey’s conversation with his mama may lose some significance in future readings. Similarly, Petey and Ducky Bobby go to school like human children, but it’s never clearly established that they’re stand-ins for kids, or whether they live in a world in which dogs also go to school, the same way that children do. Beyond these puzzling touches, however, the book has a lot to offer. The overall premise is intriguing, and many children will be able to relate to it. The book’s fun format features rhymed, blue text, coupled with color photos of dogs in poses that match the story’s context. Illustrations of dogs and bones also frame each page. As a result, children will enjoy paging through this book to look at the pictures, even if some of its plot needs further explanation.
An engaging title for kids with an important lesson, only slightly hampered by its thin, confusing setting.