My Pet Book by Bob Staake

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My Pet Book by Bob Staake

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Buy My Pet Book by Bob Staake at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: When is a book, not a book? When it is your pet! Join one little boy and his pet book on an adventure full of colour and eccentricities.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 40 Date: April 2015
Publisher: Andersen Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781783442317

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I have a deep regard for books; they led to my love of reading and later my career as a Librarian. Over the years I have had some books that I have read many times and are firm favourites, but would I go so far as to call them my pets? I don’t keep them in a little book house (unless that’s how you describe your bookshelf) and I don’t walk around the street with them on a lead. Who on earth would do that?

The little boy who stars in My Pet Book does. This is a little chap who has no interest in cats, dogs, gerbils or hamsters; he only wants one type of pet – a book. Rather than dismissing him, or booking a therapy session, his parents set out with the boy to find a perfect pet book. With book in tow, this is one boy who might get stares from the people around him, but at least his book takes him on adventures of the imagination and does not leave unpleasant parcels that need cleaning up!

Children’s novels remain one of the most vibrant and imaginative areas of fiction. If you wrote an adult book about a child keeping a book as a pet you would probably find yourself needing to talk about whether the boy was called Kevin? This is however, a book for children and that allows author and illustrator Bob Staake to unlock the door to his imagination and let it all flood out onto the page and boy, does it flood.

My Pet Book has Suessian levels of activity going on over each page. Staake’s illustration style is evocative, colourful and wonderfully inviting. The story is told over 40 pages and explores a vibrant city of interesting sights and sounds. A large part of the enjoyment of reading this book is just exploring what is going on all over the page. There are loads of little secrets to find as well as one or two that are a little naughty (how fun). With so much activity happening at once, it would have been easy for Staake to lose the essence of the story of a boy and his book. Thankfully, this does not happen as Staake always remembers to keep the main characters front and centre, allowing readers to explore the background if they want to.

The story itself also works. It is as eclectic and as eccentric as you would expect from the drawings, but also has a heart and message. The idea of keeping a book as a family pet is daft, but the idea that reading opens new worlds is not. There is some genuine trepidation in the story as the book is discarded by accident and a bookhunt is undertaken. It perhaps lacks a little in terms of an arc, but the concept is fun enough to work on its own. Also the fact that the story is written in rhyming couplets leads to some fun wordplay that adds to the magical quality of the world.

With its distinctive illustration style and slightly bizarre concept, My Pet Book is a children’s sharing novel that may prove a little too full on for some very small readers. However, as they become a little older (3-5 years), children will be looking for even more visual stimulation and enjoy questioning conforms such as what a pet could be; this is a visually stunning and funny book to read. It will take many read throughs before you start to feel that you have seen everything that the book has to offer.

You can explore the concept of what a book is in A Book is a Book by Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Wilkins, or just revel in the wonder of pets in Humphrey's World of Pets by Betty G Birney.

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Buy My Pet Book by Bob Staake at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Pet Book by Bob Staake at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy My Pet Book by Bob Staake at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Pet Book by Bob Staake at Amazon.com.

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