Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pet Shop Lullaby

Boyds Mills Press

Mary Ann Fraser

At the end of a long day, the pet shop owner clicks off the lights and closes up his shop. Most of the animals sigh deeply and snuggle into their respective beds. The bunnies make their nests in the sweet straw, the puppy curls into a ball in his bedding and the turtle retracts into his shell.

Only one little hamster remains wide eyed and bushy tailed. Unable to sleep, he hops on his exercise wheel. Squeak, squeak, squeak! Now all the animals are awake. They crowd around the hamster cage, curious to see who is making the commotion. Shhhhh - doesn't he know the darkness signals bedtime?

The little hamster hops off his wheel, but doesn't settle down. Instead, he runs amok in his cage, rooting around in his seed dish to find the best bits before munching and crunching as loudly as can be. The other animals have had enough! They hold a group conference to decide which actions to take.

The dog fill us up his water dish and gives the small hamster a soothing bath (complete with tiny rubber duck and a pink plastic shower cap). After the white rabbit family helps to brush his teeth, the parrot sings him a song while swinging together. Fed, clean and relaxed, the guinea pig reads him a bedtime book and the cat tucks him gently into the cedar shavings. Mission accomplished!

With very few words and a simple plot, this is a good book for young children. It's a cute little story that shows the animals pulling together as a group to get their problem solved, demonstrating that even animals have to work to live in harmony. Kids will giggle at how the animals manage human actions such as the cat propping its head on his paw, turning on the light switch, reading a book, etc. They will also likely get a kick out of how the hamster's bedtime routine closely (bath, brushing teeth, reading a story) resembles theirs.

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