October 7, 2012

31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books: Pet Show!

The Snowy Day is probably Ezra Jack Keats's best known book, and with reason - since he won a Caldecott for it. But because I was trying to avoid reviewing Caldecott books as part of the 31 Days series, since they're obviously good, I decided to review the other Keats book we own - Pet Show!

Pet Show! tells the story of several children (including Peter from The Snowy Day) who are getting ready for a pet show at school. All the kids in the neighborhood are bringing pets for the pet show - but Archie can't find his cat. While Archie is looking all over the neighborhood, the rest of the kids head for the school.

They got to the entrance,
A lot of people were already there.
Just then Roberto's mouse took off.

Willie chased the mouse. Roberto chased Willie.
Peter chased Roberto..
Susie chased Peter --
and the show started.

Pet Show! by Ezra Jack Keats

What I like best are the pictures showing urban children of all races, happily grouped together with their pets. The judges hand out a prize to every kid.

There was the noisiest parrot,
the handsomest frog, the friendliest fishes,
the yellowest canary, the busiest ants,

the brightest goldfish, the longest dog,
the fastest mouse, the softest puppy,
the slowest turtle --
and many more!

Pet Show! by Ezra Jack Keats
Archie never did find the cat, but he creatively brought another pet. He holds up an apparently empty jar, and told the judges that he'd brought a germ named Al.

"A blue ribbon for Al, the quietest pet in the show!" the judges announced.

The illustrations in Pet Show!, like all of Keats's books, are gorgeous - richly colored collages and paintings. As I mentioned before, the kids are multi-racial, and it's never mentioned. I love how Keats incorporates kids of different cultures, without ever making a big statement about it, or pointing out the ethnic diversity in the text.

I read up a bit on Keats, and found out he was actually born Jacob Ezra Katz, but legally changed his name due to anti-Semitic prejudice. It makes me happy that a man who experienced prejudice ended up being known for introducing multiculturalism into mainstream kid lit.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommended age: 2-6

What is your favorite Ezra Jack Keats book?

This post is day seven of my 31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.