When families get blended, so do their animals. Gizmo, a genius guinea pig who can read and wears eyeglasses, and Wedgie, a much less intelligent corgi who wears a superhero cape, each alternately relate their interwoven stories in distinct first-pet voices.
Unfortunately for the guinea pig, his owner, Elliot, is forced to let his new, annoying little sister, Jasmine, help take care of Gizmo. Jasmine enjoys dressing him up in tutus and housing him in Barbie’s lavish (pink) former abode. But Gizmo is an intrepid sort of critter with evil plans to rule the world, and he does find Barbie’s rucksack useful for carrying gear as he engages in some nighttime adventures, not all of them successful. Through comments Elliot makes, readers learn of his unhappiness with his new family situation, although this second storyline takes a back seat to Gizmo’s scheming. Acting as his and Elliot’s foil, Wedgie, who calls Gizmo “the Furry Potato,” is convincingly doglike in his eager embrace of just about everything. Fisinger’s numerous illustrations are action-packed and appropriately humorous, especially in their depiction of Wedgie’s never-ending enthusiasm. An opening gallery introduces Jasmine’s family as Latino and Elliot and his father as black. While the tale is never laugh-out-loud funny, it’s amusing and imaginative enough to sustain interest for readers new to chapter books.
Gizmo is more droll than likable, but Wedgie is attractively steadfast and amiable, in the end rescuing both Gizmo and the story. (Fantasy. 7-10)