When her teacher announces that the class will be getting a pet, rodent lover Frankie Sparks knows exactly what it should be—she just needs to convince everyone else.
Frankie’s aunt is a rodentologist, so Frankie has a prime resource to help her determine which rodent would make a good class pet—because of course they will get a rodent…right? Frankie, who is more adept at math and inventing than at reading and writing, is nevertheless so excited that she does her research right away and is ready to present her arguments for getting a rat before anyone else. But her teacher insists that she respect the process. Frankie is disappointed, but things get worse when her best friend, Maya, tells her that she really doesn’t want a rodent—in fact, she’s scared of them. When Maya hits a stumbling block in her research, Frankie seizes the opportunity to pressure her into voting for a rat. With some advice from her mom, Frankie finally gets a grip and realizes that her friendship, complete with differences, is more important than a rat. As a chapter-book protagonist, Frankie is pleasingly well-developed, with a full range of emotions, strengths, and weaknesses. Frankie and her family are depicted as black, and other classmates are realistically diverse, conveyed in both text and Sarell’s black-and-white illustrations. Endnotes explain “problem scoping” and encourage readers to invent.
A pleasantly complex early school story. (Fiction. 6-11)