PEACH FUZZ vol. 1
By Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges
Review copy provided by publisher
After I read this book, I knew I needed a kid-sized perspective on the story. I wanted to make sure that my "adult perspective" filter wasn't interfering with my take on the story line. So I asked Carmen Girl, a responsible pet owner, to read the book and talk to me about it.
First, a mini plot summary: Amanda begs her mom for a pet, her mom caves in, Amanda picks a ferret because it's unusual but she knows nothing about ferrets, Amanda makes a lot of mistakes as a first-time pet owner (first-time and ignorant and with no parental support and guidance...but I digress).
Carmen Girl really liked the way the author portrayed humans from the pet ferret's point of view: as the evil handra, a five-headed monster that attacks the ferret with no warning. Carmen Girl also appreciated the sub-plot to the story -- that you have to teach pets not to bite, and you have to teach them right and wrong.
And then Carmen Girl went straight for the things about this book that concerned me when I read it: Amanda is an irresponsible pet owner. She doesn't know anything about animals. She doesn't realize she has to get in touch with the wild nature of an animal to understand why it bites. She is cruel to Peach Fuzz and doesn't take very good care of her. She needed to learn about ferrets BEFORE she brought one home. And for that matter, why does her mother let her do this? She spoils Amanda and is as unthinking about the pet purchase as Amanda is (they buy the wrong kind of cage). The first pet store clerk is a total ditz, and the vet is completely unprofessional. He admits he doesn't know anything about ferrets. All he does is listen to Peach Fuzz's heartbeat with his stethoscope and then he CHARGES them for saying she's still alive. (This incident occurs after Amanda drops Peach Fuzz from a height.)
By the end of the book, Amanda is starting to "get it." She is using the information she has learned from a helpful pet store clerk to train Peach Fuzz not to bite. They are starting to form a connection.
My question to Carmen Girl -- Is this reform too little too late? Is there too much irresponsible pet ownership in this book to make it worthwhile? Carmen Girl thought it was PROBABLY okay. We both agreed we'd like to read the next book in the series to see if Amanda keeps making better pet owner choices. And when I asked Carmen Girl if I should put this book in the classroom library, she cited A DOG'S LIFE by Ann Martin as an example of a similar book that doesn't show humans in their best light and that gives the pet's point of view.
Final verdict: I'll add it to my collection, but I'll try to make sure I talk to the kids who read it to verify they're getting the message about responsible pet ownership that comes late in the book.
Links: TokyoPop's official site for PEACH FUZZ
The authors' PEACH FUZZ website