When Spencer gets a new pet, he’s excited to do all the things that pets do—taking walks in the park, going to the vet, and attending parties together. There’s just one hitch: Spencer’s new pet is a balloon.
And that means No. Sharp. Objects. No drooling dogs at the park. No prickly porcupines at the vet. And absolutely no pinning tails on any donkeys!
Spencer’s New Pet is a story of pure fun about a boy, his dog, and a friendship that endures life’s sharpest…and most unexpected twists.
Two-color illustrations rendered in Adobe Photoshop.
Scholastic Reading Counts
In this mostly wordless title with a surprise ending, Spencer goes on many adventures with his pet balloon dog. This title is set up like an old movie and opens with the old fashioned film leader countdown of 3, 2, 1 in large circles. Keeping with the silent movie theme, the story line begins with Part I. Readers meet Spencer who leaves the circus tent with a balloon dog on a string leash. In this section and Part II: The Park, his dog escapes being popped by a variety of sharp objects including a hedgehog, a kite, and an eagle’s sharp claws. Illustrations are crisp and clear and do an excellent job of conveying the story line without words. For example, when Spencer accidentally lets go of the balloon dog, it floats up in the sky and readers feels engaged as he tries to retrieve it. The art clearly shows the flight path of the balloon dog and its many near disasters including encounters with bees, a unicorn’s horn on a carousel, a pineapple, a cactus, and a broken tree branch. Fate changes in Part III: The Party. After surviving a close call during the piñata game and with the candles on the birthday cake, a girl playing pin the tail on the donkey accidentally changes everything. This story has a happy ending thanks to a balloon-sculpting clown at the party. This clever and imaginative title lends itself to discussion. Highly recommended for public and school libraries.
A wordless picture-book ode to black-and-white silent film comedies (as well as to The Red Balloon) stars a boy named Spencer and his balloon puppy. Spencer loves his new “pet” and takes it with him everywhere he goes. Readers witness Spencer caring for his balloon dog in a typical new-pet montage of images including bath time, storytime, and snuggling. Trips around town offer moments of heightened drama, including close encounters with porcupine quills, a dog’s teeth, a piñata bat, and an eagle’s talons. One double-page spread alone features six potentially fatal near-poking experiences. Luckily, thanks to Spencer’s overly cautious nature, his pet balloon survives unscathed. A superbly executed twist ending truly makes the book’s conclusion pop. Sima’s digitally rendered illustrations capture the feel of nickelodeon cinema, right down to the vertical scratches, muddied grays, grainy texture, and title cards. The only colors present are the subtle pink shading on Spencer’s face and the reddish-pink balloon dog. Occasional tension-heighten-ing close-ups and iris-shot effects all help approximate the silent cinema feel. Reel countdown endpapers and end title credits help complete this handsome package.