Review Blog

Jul 18 2014

Big pet day by Lisa Shanahan

cover image

Ill. by Gus Gordon. Lothian, 2014. ISBN 9780734412416.
(Age: 5+) Recommended. School. Animals.
Each of the children in the class brings their pet to school for Pet Day. They are all excited, especially knowing that their principal, Mr Fisher will come in and judge whose pet is the best.
Mrs Dalton is a little flustered when Glen's ferret escapes his box, and is a little perturbed when Jodie's horse does a poo just outside the classroom door. After all, she is trying to keep the classroom neat and tidy for Mr Fisher's visit.
Lily has brought along her dragon, and each behaviour shown by the other pets is one that her dragon does not do, as she delights in telling the class. But Courtney always has the last word, telling them all that dragons do not exist. As the day wears on, the illustrations show Mrs Dalton becoming more and more flustered, cleaning up the horse poo, trying to keep the ferret in its cage, stopping the children feeding the puppy red cordial at recess time. When they assemble back in the classroom, a nice calming activity of drawing their animal occurs while after lunch the children line up with their animals for Mr Fisher's scrutiny.
Of course, chaos reigns and it is up to Lily and her dragon to save the day, a lovely resolution to a delightful story which will intrigue and engage younger readers. All the fun of being at school with your peers is shown, with a hint of some of the snide remarks made by one of the children. School is presented so clearly, the frazzled teacher having to use all of her skills to make the day successful for everyone, the principal strolling in at the end, unaware of the chaos that has reigned during the day, the little cameo sketches of the classmates: all is charming, heartwarming and very real.
The wonderful illustrations by Gordon enhance the story, showing a group of kids having fun with their Pet Day. He has used a range of media to create his illustrations for the book, including line drawing, crayon, cut-outs and watercolour. All is engrossing as I loved looking at all the detail on each page, working out how each page was done, as I am sure younger readers will as well.
Fran Knight

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