PreS-Gr 2-A mother whose child has a fondness for exotic pets lives in constant, ever-increasing dread of them. This familiar family predicament is rendered ridiculous in nonsense verse, which Seymour delivers in deadpan style. On each double-page spread, readers meet a buzzard, warthog, bat, iguana, etc. Each pet has an objectionable habit-the iguana ``likes to lick people just under the knees,'' the warthog blows his nose on the boy's sleeve, and so on. The creatures eventually cause mom to pack her bags and flee. At this point the boy, missing his mother, sends his menagerie packing with a week's worth of food. Schindler's cartoonlike colored-pencil illustrations are soft and cool. His evenly toned, unsaturated palette implies a mood of detachment that subtly underscores the humor. Making full use of gesture and expression, he depicts a prim, meticulously coiffed mother whose very hands are stressed-right down to her unchipped nail polish. The redheaded kid is shown happily involved with his pets and blissfully indifferent to his mother's consternation. While the faces of the humans are caricatures, the animals are drawn with sly accuracy. The humor comes full circle on the last spread, when the boy, only partially chastened, welcomes his mother home while holding a frog behind his back. Although this book is simple on the surface, it is deftly managed and all the wackier for its shrewd understatement.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
Parents who shudder at the thought of their kids bringing home hamsters or garter snakes take heed. It could be worse. The young narrator's menagerie includes a buzzard, a warthog, a bat, a squid, and some slugs. As the rhyming text notes, the boy's mother is not happy sharing her living quarters with the various species. In fact, by the book's conclusion, she's given up, leaving the house to the boy and his new friends. But the boy learns that all the slugs in the world can't make up for a missing mom. The story has plenty of the elements that kids, anyway, will adore--like a warthog that blows its nose on its owner's sleeve. The execution is not always as good as the concept. The rhyme can be clunky: "I love my buzzard and my buzzard loves me. / I feed him five fish heads a day. / He likes me to polish the top of his head. / My mom does not wish him to stay." And the colored pencil artwork wavers between very funny to some missed opportunities. Overall, however, this will give kids some laughs, especially when slugs get put in the jelly jar by mistake.