Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Great Pet Heist

Ecton, Emily and Mottram, David (illus.). The Great Pet Heist
May 12th 2020 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

When Butterbean the dog throws up on the floor and his owner, Mrs. Food, slips in it, the squad comes to take her away. Butterbean, along with Walt the cat (who uses the pronouns she/her) and pet rats Marco and Polo are understandably considered, even after Bob, who works in the apartment building, lines up a young neighbor girl, Madison, to feed them and take them outside. When it becomes clear that Mrs. Food might not come back home, and that the pets might be separated and have to go to a shelter, they start thinking up a survival plan. It involves having a source of income, so with the help of Oscar the myna bird (whose voice is helpful) and a neighboring Octopus, Chad, they plan a heist. There is a mean, shifty looking man who smells like coins who gives them a hard time in the elevator, so they do some snooping and find out he does have some money. They manage to sneak into the apartment, drug his accomplice with a half a sleeping pill, and get the gold coins. However, Madison (whose living situation worries the animals) is blamed for the theft and is kidnapped by the men. The pets realize that Madison's well being is the top priority, and go to great lengths to rescue her. There are some secrets about her existence that come to light, but luckily when Mrs. Food comes home to say goodbye to the pets, a plan that benefits everyone is worked out, and it's not necessary for the animals to plan another heist.
Strengths: I was thinking that this would be another middle grade novel about pets being kidnapped, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the pets were plotting the heist! Each pet brings some special skill to the operation, and they are all very concerned about Madison. Chad the octopus is the real star, and his reluctance to participate ("what's in it for me?" turns out to be cans of sardines), and well as his ninja skills, will resonate with young readers. This moved quickly, had delightful occasional illustrations, and reminded me of several favorites-- Ellen Potter's Pish Posh (the apartment building?), Selden's A Cricket in Times Square, and Woodrow's classroom animal tales.
Weaknesses: As careful as the animals were to deliver the sleeping tablet to the accomplice, it seemed like a bad thing to do. Also, the storyline with Madison's living arrangements was unrealistic, even if it was fun. Those are both things that bother me that young readers won't notice.
What I really think: I would definitely purchase this for an elementary school, but am debating for middle school. My readers who want mysteries want something edgier with murder like Tharp's Mojo, Giles' Fake ID or Sorrells' First Shot.

Ms. Yingling

No comments:

Post a Comment