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From the Pets Rule! series, volume 1

by Susan Tan ; illustrated by Wendy Tan Shiau Wei

Pub Date: June 28th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-338-75634-0
Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

A rescue dog takes on the neighborhood scourge to get one step closer to world domination.

When the Chin family brings home new Chihuahua Ember, he immediately boasts of his plans for a kingdom takeover. Unfortunately, none of the household’s humans understand their would-be overlord’s barks. Not even his “favorite minion,” Lucy, seems phased. The “not cute” but “EVIL” Chihuahua tries his luck with the other pets—a hamster named Steve, a bird named Neo, and a beetle named BeBe. As luck would have it, someone already rules the neighborhood: a mean squirrel named Masher. To get to the top, Ember needs to take Masher down—and brave some very scary trash cans in the process. Is this the “great and terrible destiny” he has been dreaming of? Told in 13 chapters from Ember’s first-person point of view, this early chapter book expertly cultivates a larger-than-life pseudo-antihero. Tan’s tone is light, with bursts of high drama and action. Tan Shiau Wei’s black-and-white cartoon illustrations further enhance the comedy, creating dissonance between the pup’s expectations and reality. The Chin family is cued Chinese. Future installments are already in the works.

An infectiously silly series starter.

(questions and activities) (Humor. 6-8)