Dear Beast

Holiday House. May 2020. 80p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780823444922.
K-Gr 2–This title’s collection of letters brings out the best (and worst) in a small boy’s two pets—cat Simon and dog Baxter (“the Beast”) as they battle over young Andy, a child of divorced parents who has two homes with a pet at each house. The very proper and organized Simon only thinks of his own role as number one pet and wants to convince Baxter to leave permanently. However, the innocent, affectionate dog supports Andy. Baxter’s missives include misspelled words on torn, lined paper, while the feline writes formal notes “from the desk of” Simon. Both pets are in a contest for Andy’s heart. With interspersed cartoon comic images, a Doggy Dictionary of misspellings, and a collection of letters from other pets and street friends, the tale progresses through various crises as Simon learns more about how to be a “good pet.” The letter format allows for a variation of fonts and postscript or “FTS (forgot to say)” commentary, while the text’s humor and colorful cartoon art animate even minor characters.
VERDICT This recommended first purchase title for all libraries encourages young readers to examine the point of view and underlying motives of the characters. A tale begging for the treat of a sequel.

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