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SPARKY by Jenny Offill

4739756Sparky is written in the first person, thus I do not have a name for the little girl, but she wants a pet.  Her mother is not fond of the idea at all, but listens to her daughter giving various options for what this pet could be.  Mom turns her down again and again, but, finally, gives in, only to list some serious stipulations: “You can have any pet you want as long as it doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed.”   (Right!, I say out loud while reading this delightful book in the bookstore!)  The girl goes to her school librarian (“who knows everything in the world”) for help.  (Of course, I love this description of the librarian having been a children’s librarian in the public library!)  The girl is given the Animal Encyclopedia “S” and finally turns the page to a sloth.  She decides this animal fits Mom’s stipulations and orders one through the mail.  When it arrives, she names it Sparky.  She observes its ways:  it sleeps A LOT!, eats leaves, and drinks the dew that collects in the leaves.  No need to walk it, bathe it, nor feed it!  Expecting Sparky to do tricks, she sets a training regimen for Sparky.  Her expectations are very high.  Sparky’s are not!  He just is not into tricks nor much of anything else.  With a show coming upon them quickly, the training heats up.  Sparky is not learning as she had hoped but the show must go on.  And it does!

The drawings are simple yet express emotion so well.  The artist is Chris Appelhans.

Here is a link to the Book’s Trailer on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IlYj-vf67M

Just thinking about this book is making me smile!  You will too.

Reading Level: 4 – 8 Years

Award: A Junior Library Guild Selection 2014

Jenny Offill is the author of 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore, a Parenting Magazine Best Book of the Year and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year, and 11 Experiments That Failed, also a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year.  She has written two novels.  Last Things was a New York Times Notable book of the year and a finalist for the L.A. Times Art Seidenbaum award.  Dept. of Speculation, her second novel, receives wonderful reviews.  She co-edited two anthologies and contributed to a book of short stories.  You can find Ms. Offill @ http://jennyoffill.com

Chris Appelhans has worked on several films. He was an illustrator and production designer for Coraline, an environment designer Fantastic Mr. Fox, and a visual development artist for The Princess and the Frog. This is his first picture book.   He can be found @ http://www.froghatstudios.com and
http://www.gallerynucleus.com/artist/chris_appelhans

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780375870231
  • Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
  • Publication date: 3/11/2014
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 9.60 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Originally reviewed 4-5-2014

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