Jamie’s Pet
by Ramona Morrow
Page Publishing Inc.

"One day, Jamie thought he should have a pet. He wanted someone to play with and to keep him company, so he asked his mother, ’Can I have a pet, Mommy?’"

After two decades of publishing poetry in various publications, Morrow is breaking into the world of children’s fiction with her new book, dedicated to her real-life son, Jamie. The story unfolds as the child protagonist concludes that he needs to have a pet with which to play and add to their family. Jamie’s mother agrees, and they go to the pet store to begin comparing pet options and deciding which pet is right for Jamie. Jamie’s mother gives Jamie some information about each of the pets he sees, including such animals as birds, rabbits, gerbils, and kittens. Jamie meets all the animals, observes their behavior, and listens to his mother’s descriptions as he narrows down his decision.

Similar in style and content to Cynthia Rylant’s Henry and Mudge books and those of Arnold Lobel’s classic Frog and Toad series, the author sets the tone of the story with a simple quest for the protagonist: what kind of pet is right for me? As Jamie learns about each pet from his mother, he finds a puppy that seems to like him back, and his mother describes to him the responsibility that comes with being a puppy owner. Of course, Jamie agrees to take great care of his puppy, and the story ends with the puppy receiving its name, Gizmo, and going home to be a friend to Jamie. It’s a very relatable story for children, a characteristic of the genre.

The story is best described as an easy reader. However, unlike many classics of easy reader status, Morrow offsets the full-color illustrations with full pages of text. Traditionally, this is not done because the targeted reader can be a bit overwhelmed by that amount of text without breaks. Shorter sentences and smaller paragraphs are more typical in this type of book. Also, the complications in these types of stories are usually more involved than those of a picture book. However, in Morrow’s offering, the tension is very slight, and the book loses elements of a standard narrative as it becomes more informational in construction. In addition, it is characteristic of the genre to have well-drawn, memorable illustrations to enhance the story. The illustrations accompanying this story would benefit from being softer and drawn in a manner that illustrates the adorable nature of the pets in the shop. The author’s story is both tender and engaging, and more expressive artwork would ensure that the reader enjoys its full power.

Morrow’s story may well resonate with children thinking about getting a pet of their own. The attempt to convince a parent to get a pet and the tough choice of making the decision on the type of pet are universal themes. The story offers a lot of interesting vocabulary, with words like ”commented,” “aquarium,” and “cowabunga.” These words may seem at first to be too difficult for the targeted readers, but it is a good age to build an ever-expanding vocabulary. Morrow has written a nice story for early, emerging readers with a wide appeal. Child pet owners and future pet owners can empathize with the young protagonist.

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