Saturday, August 17, 2019

Review - My Tiny Pet

My Tiny Pet
by Jessie Hartland
Date: 2019
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

A witty celebration of the tiny tardigrade, a microscopic creature that looks like a bear

Living in a tiny house has one huge drawback--no space for pets. So when a little girl's parents announce that it's time for the family to simplify, downsizing from a huge home in the city to a tiny house in the woods, it's quite a blow--after all, she's grown quite fond of her pet poodles, cats, tarantula, snake, hedgehogs, mice, birds, fish, octopus, rabbits, pony, pig, and turtles. Fortunately, she finds them all good homes, and she has to admit that she enjoys her new simpler life.

There's just one thing: She still really wants just one pet.

At first the answer is no. But using a little scientific savvy, she finds one that could be just the right fit--how could anyone turn down a pet smaller than an ant's eye that doesn't need special food or toys or walking, and will always be small enough to squeeze into their home, no matter how much they downsize?

Jessie Hartland creatively blends fantasy and science in a far-out story that bursts with exuberance. Her whimsical art celebrates one very thoughtful, persistent little girl and introduces readers to the tiny tardigrade, with its fascinating array of survival skills.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

The concept of this book is sort of cute. Who ever considered a tardigrade as a pet? Kids will learn quite a bit about these nifty little creatures... as long as they can stomach the sight of them (this might be an issue for more sensitive readers).

In this story, a child with lots of pets is forced to give them all up when her parents decide to downsize. Living in a tiny house is okay... but the girl still really wants a pet. Her parents, however, don't budge... until she brings up the idea of the microscopic tardigrade, or "water bear". It's the perfect pet for a tiny house. Actually, it's the perfect pet if you want something you can take anywhere, since it's so small. (The only downside is that you need a microscope if you want to actually be able to look at your pet.)

While I like the overall premise and the child's clever decision to get a tardigrade for a pet, I do not like the parents' actions in this one. After moving to a tiny house at the beginning of the book, forcing the child to give up all of her more traditional pets, the pair decide that their tiny house (with just one room and a sleeping loft) isn't nearly small enough, so they decide to move into a treehouse in the forest. The kid doesn't really care because she can keep her tardigrade, but at what point does this obsession with tiny spaces start to look like child neglect? What happens when she's a teenager? Is she going to be okay sleeping squished between her parents on a cot that folds out from the wall? (The fact that these people downsized by choice and not out of necessity just makes them come across like pretentious rich folk who are trying to virtue signal by living like they're on the border of homelessness. It's rather distasteful. Tiny houses are fine, but I don't like seeing people forcing their children to live in cramped spaces--and taking away their animal companions--when they don't actually need to.)

So this one was just okay for me. I like the concept of the tardigrade as a practical pet that can fit in any living space, no matter how small... but I don't like the reason the girl had to resort to a pet like that in the first place.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.83 out of 5

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