Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Children Make Terrible Pets

Children Make Terrible Pets, Peter Brown's picture book about a young bear, Lucy, who one day notices a small boy hiding in the bushes and watching her. Lucy thinks the boy is adorable, calling him "Squeaker" because he "makes funny sounds." She asks her mother, who reluctantly acquiesces, if she can keep Squeaker as a pet.

Lucy and Squeaker become inseparable and have lots of fun together, but Lucy finds that Squeaker is a difficult pet: he's impossible to potty train, ruins the furniture, etc. Then one day Squeaker disappears, and Lucy follows his scent to Squeaker's house, where he is having a meal with his family. Lucy realizes that Squeaker belongs there, and she says goodbye, realizing that, as she tells her mother, "Children really do make terrible pets."

"They really are the worst," Lucy's mother agrees.

The book is funny and fun to read, and it also raises some interesting questions. What makes something or someone a "good pet?" Is a "good pet" the result of the pet or the owner? Is the way we understand other living beings entirely colored by our own experiences and perspectives? Do we seem strange to others who don't speak our language or share our customs? What do we really understand about each other?

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