A Promise Is a Promise

Overview

For all parents who have made a promise — and every kid who has held them to it — comes a cautionary tale from a masterfully witty pair.

George is a very lucky boy. He has everything a boy could want, except for one thing: he doesn’t have a pet. When George’s father finally sighs, "All right, you may have a pet," George goes out to look for one — but how is he to know that it can’t be too big, or too scampery, or too toothy, or too . . . unusual? A revered author and a Pulitzer ...

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Overview

For all parents who have made a promise — and every kid who has held them to it — comes a cautionary tale from a masterfully witty pair.

George is a very lucky boy. He has everything a boy could want, except for one thing: he doesn’t have a pet. When George’s father finally sighs, "All right, you may have a pet," George goes out to look for one — but how is he to know that it can’t be too big, or too scampery, or too toothy, or too . . . unusual? A revered author and a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist keep their tongues in their cheeks as they spin a wry tale of promises and pets, befuddled parents and a triumphant child.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This story, which amounts to an overextended setup for a "gotcha" punch line, stars a boy named George who persuades his parents that he needs a pet ("I'm the only kid in town who doesn't have a pet. I'm probably the only kid in the whole world who doesn't have a pet"). George's parents summarily reject his first round of candidates: a dog is too high-maintenance, a mouse is too fecund (" 'Nothing that scampers,' said George's mother. 'And nothing that multiplies.' ") and a shark is too carnivorous. But George finally gets his parents to swear (hence the title) that that they will let him let him keep a bird-no matter what. Kids will see this one coming a mile away. The bird is the worst of the bunch: an obnoxious parrot who calls Mom a boob and Dad a nincompoop, and loves to remind both of them, to George's delight, that "A promise is a promise!" While it's true that children love to see grownups eat their words, despite a handful of mirthful moments this story comes across too flat and flimsy to provide a satisfying degree of schadenfreude. Ages 3-9. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Overcome by George's insistence that every other kid in the world has a pet, his parents agree that he can have one, but as excited George brings home one pet after another, his parents find something very wrong with each. Trying to avoid problems, George still manages to select unacceptable pets, from a huge, shaggy dog to a shark. Finally, his parents promise that they will not change their mind if he gets a bird. But Horatio turns out to be a foul-mouthed fowl of a parrot. Still, "a promise is a promise," his parents admit, to George's delight. The fun here is mainly in Auth's thin black ink drawings that create the three main characters and the parade of potential pets in minimal settings. Transparent watercolor washes define the pets, especially the very bright red, yellow, and blue of the winning parrot. These feathers, and the large, bold typeface of his vocalizations produce a climax one can almost hear, helping readers join in George's parents' emotions.
School Library Journal

K-Gr 2
When his parents finally cave in to his wish for a pet, George sets out to find one. He arrives home with several inappropriate candidates, including a huge untrained dog, uncaged mice and their babies, and a shark. George is told to return them, and in frustration he demands to know exactly what he can keep. When his mother and father suggest a bird, he makes them promise that they won't send it away. It comes as no surprise when George brings home a loud, insult-shouting parrot with bright red feathers. The text and homey cartoon illustrations are used together to good effect, and the pictures breathe life into this familiar story.
—Catherine CallegariCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
In this uninspired take on a tired premise, young George wangles permission from his parents for a pet, then brings home a series of unsuitable ones. Ordered to take back the huge dog, the breeding pair of mice and the shark, George extracts a promise that he can have a bird-and so he gets a big, bright red, loudly abusive parrot. Spoiled and sullen, George makes an unappealing protagonist, his clueless dad and wimpy, hand-wringing mother show not a speck of intelligence and the sketchy, rumpled figures in Auth's illustrations supply neither character nor much humor. There is no reason to prefer this over (to name a few examples) Dan Yaccarino's An Octopus Followed Me Home (1997), Lauren Child's I Want a Pet (1999) or Karen Kaufman Orloff's I Wanna Iguana (2004), illustrated by David Catrow. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763622855
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 4/24/2007
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.43 (w) x 8.73 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Florence Parry Heide is the award-winning author of more than fifty children’s books, including the classic THE SHRINKING OF TREEHORN, illustrated by Edward Gorey, and SOME THINGS ARE SCARY (NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE), illustrated by Jules Feiffer. She lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Tony Auth is the illustrator of MY CURIOUS UNCLE DUDLEY by Barry Yourgrau. His irreverent Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoons have appeared in the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER and other newspapers since 1971. He lives in Philadelphia.

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