Pet Dad (Elanna Allen)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pet Dad by Elanna Allen, the story of a stubborn little girl and her equally stubborn dad.

Plum wants nothing more than a pet of her own. Her dad, however, wants nothing more than NO pets. So Plum decides to make do with what she’s got, and declares her dad to be her pet, renaming him Schnitzel. She attempts to feed him yard clippings (which resemble his boring grown-up salad) and paper train him (he prefers to READ the paper during potty time instead), but is met with his stubborn refusal at every turn. A day at the park is met with more conflict when Plum demands he “fetch” her an ice cream cone, and is instead punished with a time-out for her behavior. Given time to think, Plum realizes her training error: she never gave her “pet” a reward. And there’s not reward that pet dads like more than a hug.

Very mixed feelings. For one, the illustrations were so cute – Plum and her dad are both immensely expressive and endearing, and I loved the creative typesets for key dialogue and concepts. There’s also a sweet message about manners in there as well, but I don’t know. Overall, the story felt too odd to me. There was something very uncomfortable about a little girl pulling her shocked father on his hands and knees, using his necktie as a leash. And while I realize that the intent was to show children that it’s necessary to be polite and not overbearing on their parents, the message that hugs are “rewards” also hit a strangely sour note for me as well. Hugs should be given because they are wanted, not as a commodity or to get one’s way. It’s a shame, because the art is so precious, and the length is fine, but even JJ seemed puzzled with Plum’s behavior. Overall, not for us.

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