Spencer's New Pet

by Jessie Sima (Author) Jessie Sima (Illustrator)

Spencer's New Pet
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

From the creator of Not Quite Narwhal comes a classic tale of a boy and his dog--except in this unique story, one of them is a balloon!

When Spencer gets a new pet, he's excited to do all the things that pets do--taking walks in the park, going to the vet, and attending parties together. There's just one hitch: Spencer's new pet is a balloon. And that means

No. Sharp. Objects.

No drooling dogs at the park.

No prickly porcupines at the vet.

And absolutely no pinning tails on any donkeys!

Spencer's New Pet is a story of pure fun about a boy, his dog, and a friendship that endures life's sharpest...and most unexpected twists.

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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

With many nods to silent film--including a black-and-white palette, elegant title cards dividing the story into three parts, highly dramatic close-ups, and iris shots--Sima (Love, Z) tells the nearly wordless story of a bespectacled boy and the dog he loves very much. Only the dog is no ordinary pooch: it's a seemingly magical, bright red balloon critter (one of few uses of color in the book) ostensibly created by a clown who doubles as a balloon animal artist. Like a real dog, the balloon cuddles, does tricks, romps (or at least floats) through the park, and stops at fire hydrants. But the dog also has an uncanny sense for getting too close to anything that could spell doom for a balloon, whether it's a hedgehog's spines, an eagle's talons, or a piñata stick. Finally, a classic party game hastens the inevitable, and that's when Sima offers a spectacular visual surprise. The event may initially alarm--there's a whiff of Twilight Zone eeriness in the big revelation--but Sima swiftly assures readers that all is well. As long as there's a powerful balloon artist nearby, that is. Ages 4-8. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Aug.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2—In this mostly wordless title with a surprise ending, Spencer goes on many adventures with his pet balloon dog. This title is set up like an old movie and opens with the old fashioned film leader countdown of 3, 2, 1 in large circles. Keeping with the silent movie theme, the story line begins with Part I. Readers meet Spencer who leaves the circus tent with a balloon dog on a string leash. In this section and Part II: The Park, his dog escapes being popped by a variety of sharp objects including a hedgehog, a kite, and an eagle's sharp claws. Illustrations are crisp and clear and do an excellent job of conveying the story line without words. For example, when Spencer accidentally lets go of the balloon dog, it floats up in the sky and readers feels engaged as he tries to retrieve it. The art clearly shows the flight path of the balloon dog and its many near disasters including encounters with bees, a unicorn's horn on a carousel, a pineapple, a cactus, and a broken tree branch. Fate changes in Part III: The Party. After surviving a close call during the piñata game and with the candles on the birthday cake, a girl playing pin the tail on the donkey accidentally changes everything. This story has a happy ending thanks to a balloon-sculpting clown at the party. VERDICT This clever and imaginative title lends itself to discussion. Highly recommended for public and school libraries.—Robin Sofge, Prince William Public Library System, VA

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

*** "Young readers will be tickled and amazed and will want to view it again and again. Original and thoroughly delightful." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date
August 20, 2019
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV002190 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Pets
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV002070 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Dogs
Library of Congress categories
Stories without words
Picture books
Imagination in children
Novelty balloons

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