When Mr. Betts brings all his pets to the vet for a cure for spots, it takes several attempts and choices of medicine to finally produce a satisfying result.
Proving medicine’s inexact science, Dr. Potts, a white vet with a black vet tech, tries her best through trial and error to find a solution. The green potion removes the spots only to bring out stripes; the blue medicine removes stripes but produces beards; the yellow stuff eliminates beards but leaves the animals crying. “A crying fish, a crying cat, a sobbing snake, a sobbing rat, / A weeping rabbit, a weeping frog, a wailing canary, a wailing dog.” Each new attempt inspires curiosity as to what will happen next, and sure enough the red tincture stops the weeping but leaves Mr. Betts mystified as his animals have now “SHRUNK IN SIZE!” and are now a “very small fish, a very small cat, a little snake, a little rat, / A minute rabbit, a minute frog, a tiny canary, a tiny dog.” The rhyming text moves the humorous narrative forward, announcing each new development with a cumulative pattern offering a variety of synonyms in the refrain. Cartoon illustrations in acrylic and collage of a brown-skinned family bring out both exasperation at the hopelessness of the vet and sympathy for all involved. How to cure smallness? Mr. Betts is instructed to just feed his creatures, who indeed grow healthy. Couple this with Jules Feiffer’s Bark, George (1999).
“Veterinary misadventure” doesn’t normally pair with “rollicking read-aloud,” but here it does. (Picture book. 3-6)