Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Pet Named Sneaker

If A Pet Named Sneaker has a traditional feel to it, perhaps it's because its author, Joan Heilbroner, penned several easy readers back in the day. Her most famous is the 1962 charmer Robert the Rose Horse (with illustrations by P. D. Eastman).

The hero of her latest book is Sneaker, a snake who can contort himself into seemingly endless shapes. At the story's start, he lives a lonely existence in a pet store until a boy named Pete takes him home. (I applaud the choice of Pete for his name. Beginning readers will learn how adding a final "e" changes the title's "pet" to "Pete.") Sneaker goes everywhere with Pete, including to school, where he learns to read and write, and to the park pool, where he saves a toddler from drowning and ends up as the lifeguard's helper.

The story has definite kid appeal and the cartoony illustrations humorously showcase the snake's antics. I'd have preferred the story to have been broken into two separate books, one featuring Sneaker's adventures in school and the other set at the pool. As is, the transition from school to summer vacation is abrupt. But I doubt kids will mind, and I bet many after reading this book will beg their parents for their own pet snake.

A Pet Named Sneaker
by Joan Heilbroner
illustrations by Pascal Lemaitre
Random House, 48 pages
Published: January 2013

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