Sunday, January 22, 2006

That New Animal

Jenkins, Emily. 2005. THAT NEW ANIMAL. Ill. By Pierre Pratt. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374374430 [Suggested Grade Levels K-2]

“Maybe we could eat it,” whispers FudgeFudge. “We’d get in trouble,” says Marshmallow. “Then we’ll just bite it.” “No.” “Bite it a LITTLE bit?” “No.” When a new baby is brought home, FudgeFudge and Marshmallow are two unhappy dogs. No more tummy scratching, ball fetching, or dibs on that special spot on the couch. Busy with the baby, the new parents ignore FudgeFudge and Marshmallow until the dogs resort to peeing on the carpet and chewing up the baby’s books and toys. Things change when someone named “Grandpa” comes to visit and tries to pick up the new animal. “I thought you hated that animal,” whispers FudgeFudge. “I do,” says Marshmallow. “But it’s not his new animal to go picking up whenever he feels like it. It’s our animal.”

Jenkins subtly captures that feeling that every animal (human, dog, cat) feels when displaced by a new baby. And, as usually happens, the two dogs’ initial displeasure is replaced by a protective feeling, and even though they don’t like this new addition to the family, it still belongs to them. Illustrations are vivid and colorful enough to hold younger readers’ interests. Black FudgeFudge and white Marshmallow stand out among the other colors of orange, yellow, blue, lime green and bright pink. Their expressions are mischievous, not malicious, and readers will come to realize that although initially you will probably hate that “new animal smell, “ you might just come to like it just a little bit. A humorous read-aloud for younger readers, especially those with new siblings at home.

Ask readers about siblings. Do they remember how they felt when a new baby was brought home? Did their pets act the same way?

Other books by Jenkins:
DAFFODIL. ISBN 0374316767

Books about adjusting to a new baby:
Danziger, Paula. BARFBURGER BABY, I WAS HERE FIRST. ISBN 0399232044
MacLachlan, Patricia. BITTLE. ISBN 0060009616
Rosen, Michael. HOWLER. ISBN 1582348510

By Tammy Korns

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