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by Jenny Offill
Illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Published by Schwartz & Wade, 2014
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-375-87023-1

Ages 4-8

A clever twist on the “I Want a Pet” story starts with a girl’s heavy lobbying for an animal companion, followed by a compromise from her mother: “You can have any pet you want as long as it doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed.” A little research in the school library comes up with a match. “My sloth arrived by Express Mail.” The girl optimistically names him Sparky. “It was two days before I saw him awake.” In an effort to prove to an overachieving friend that Sparky is amazing, the girl holds a Trained Sloth Extravaganza. It is, unsurprisingly, a disappointment. Regardless, the girl still appreciates Sparky: “I reached over and tagged him on the claw. ‘You’re it, Sparky,’ I said. And for a long, long time, he was.” An outrageous premise is given superb, quiet, understated treatment in Jenny Offill’s delightful picture book, from the minimalist language and superb packing to the muted tone of the illustrations. Winner, 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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