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The Best Pet of All

The Best Pet of All

5.0 8
by David Larochelle

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A young boy enlists the help of a dragon to persuade his mother to let him have a dog as a pet.


A young boy enlists the help of a dragon to persuade his mother to let him have a dog as a pet.

Editorial Reviews

After his mother repeatedly refuses to get him a dog, a little boy asks for a dragon. "If you can find a dragon, you can keep it for a pet," she replies. He does find one, of course, and life with a fire-breathing dragon who roasts wieners in the living room makes a dog seem saintlike in comparison. A happy ending and whimsical 1950s-style illustrations add up to a romp of a tale. (Ages 4 to 6)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Publishers Weekly
LaRochelle's (the Mad Mysteries series) comic timing and Wakiyama's (When It's the Last Day of School) retro art add sparkle to this witty variation on a universal theme, the child who wants a dog. Tired of his mother's refusals of his repeated requests for a dog, the towheaded narrator changes his tactic and asks instead for a dragon. "If you can find a dragon, you can keep it for a pet," she replies. After some searching, the boy locates a dragon at the drugstore, reading a magazine, but it takes some hard bargaining before the dragon agrees to come home with him. It turns out, however, that dragons wreak havoc: "They roast hot dogs in the living room" (the illustration shows the creature reclining in a wingback chair, breathing fire), and they dance to loud music all night (the scaly pet spins records on a turntable and strings paper lanterns from the ceiling). The nostalgic settings of Wakiyama's vignettes and spreads, which introduce old-fashioned soda counters and beach-bathing girls who could double for the Coppertone model, accentuate the naughty goings-on by the implied contrast. Kids will cheer the clever young narrator's solution to the problem-which nets him the dog he longed for-and will relish the image of boy and dragon exchanging an in-cahoots thumbs-up over the garden wall as the mother lovingly tends to the dog. A fresh, fun frolic. Ages 5-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
What is a child to do when mother will not let him have a dog? For three days the child asks for a dog, but his mother always has a reason why a dog would not make a good pet. Finally on the fourth day, the child decides to ask for a dragon instead. His mother, knowing that a dragon would be a difficult pet to find, allows the child to get a dragon for a pet. The determined child finally finds a dragon at a drugstore. He brings his new pet home and, of course, the dragon does not behave at all: he roasts hot dogs in the living room and eats spaghetti in the bath tub. The mother becomes agitated and the boy's solution is to get a dog because dragons do not like dogs. Once the dog arrives, the dragon leaves. The child's mother then realizes that a dog is the best pet after all. Any child that has ever been told by their parent they could not have something they wanted will relate to this clever and funny book. 2004, Dutton Children's Books, Ages 5 to 7.
—Rosa Roberts
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-A young boy is desperate to have a dog. When his mother meets his repeated requests with firmer and firmer refusals, he modulates his demand and asks for a pet dragon instead. Thinking she is safe, she agrees that if he can find one, he can keep it. Unfortunately for Mom, he eventually manages to locate one, but the creature is disruptive and untidy. It won't clean up after itself, eats spaghetti in the bathtub, and roasts hot dogs (with its own breath) in the living room. When the youngster points out to his mother that dragons are scared of dogs, she finally agrees to get one. Domestic happiness is restored and the unwanted beast slinks off. LaRochelle captures the essence of the relationship between mother and son with dry humor and laconic text. The child's unfailing optimism triumphs over practical realities and his mother's initial opposition. The simplicity of the language is ideal for beginning readers, while the subtext keeps everyone amused. Wakiyama's nostalgic gouache illustrations evoke the 1950s. Dressed in capris, Mom irons print tablecloths and does dishes by hand. The appliances and decor are of the period, and the dragon is found in an old-fashioned drugstore. The bright, witty artwork complements the story to perfection.-Jane Barrer, Washington Square Village Creative Steps, New York City Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, a little boy asks his mother for a dog, but the answer is no. On Thursday, when he asks for a pet dragon, she says if he can find one, he can keep it for a pet. After searching from beach to zoo, he finds a dragon in the drugstore sporting dark glasses and a hat. But the dragon doesn't put toys away, or help with chores, and makes a mess in the kitchen. When they roast hot dogs in the living room and dance all night to loud music, Mom insists the dragon leave, but he refuses and keeps eating spaghetti in the bathtub. The boy claims it's too bad they don't have a dog because dragons are afraid of them; Mom concedes and they put a "Dog Wanted" sign in the window: dilemma solved. Insouciant retro-looking illustrations add sly touches of humor, like the tow-headed boy and dragon giving each other thumbs up. Kids will grin at the clever, imaginative ruse that outsmarts a mom as only kids can. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Perfection Learning Corporation
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

David LaRochelle lives in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

Hanako Wakiyama lives in San Francisco, California.

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The Best Pet of All 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is very funny in a dry sort of way. It consists of short, simple sentences, each with it's own amusing illustration, understandable to a child who is just beginning to talk, yet hilarious to an adult. Example: Dragons like to play with toys. But they do not like to put them away. Far from being babyish, it's perfect for beginning readers. My daughter knew it by heart by the time she started to read, but we still enjoy it. I've bought many copies as gifts. The illustrations are amusing, cleverly retro and beautifully colored.
psycheKK More than 1 year ago
Such a good book! The story is great: repetitive without being annoying; funny -- the dragon eats spaghetti in the bathtub and roasts hot dogs in the living room, but the illustrations make this book buy-worthy. Hanako Wakiyama is great at capturing a retro feel that is somehow modern. Mom is this book is so stylish. (I love that. Frumpy moms in illustrations depress me.) Yet, she seems relate-able to those without her slim physique and fun clothes. The little boy is adorable, and often pictured helping out around the house. You've got to love that. And the dragon -- well, any dragon that's found a drug store wearing dark glasses and hat is worth knowing.  One of the best books of all!
mother-of-7 More than 1 year ago
all of us love this book, from it's simple and witty text to the fabulously retro yet modern illustrations. totally a winner. one you won't mind reading again and again. and again. you might want it in hardback because you'll wear it out! i've given it as a gift several times. also, we don't have a dog. i don't want a dog. and this book has not made my kids beg for one even though it seems it would be the perfect push for them to do so.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great story. My 2 year old loves this story because of the dragon, but I like it because of the illustrations. Hanako Wakiyama does a wonderful job of making the mom a modern mom. No mom jeans on this mom! I love it. Great story and great illustrations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
My 2 boys have loved this book for years. They laugh out loud as we read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a nanny and have also worked with after school programs.The children that I have watched love this book. It has a sarcastic edge which the older children like, and it is silly in a way that younger children can also enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this at the library for my 2 year old son, as he loves dogs and dinosaurs right now. Even though he's younger than the recommended age, he loves the book and sits still for the whole story. Because of the cool artwork and cheeky story, it's also really fun for the parents to read!