Mason Dixon: Pet Disasters
Illustrated by Guy Francis. Ages 7 to 11. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. 978-0-375-86873-3
Junior Library Guild Selection
Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year
KC3 Award (Kansas City)
Soon-to-be fourth-grader Mason Dixon does not want a pet, but his parents think it will be good for him. Goldfish dies soon after his arrival (from overfeeding). Mason is relieved. Hamster escapes. Mason is relieved. Cat has to go back because best friend Brody is too allergic to ever be at their house while Cat is there. Mason is relieved. But when Dog comes, it takes a little dose of jealousy for Mason to realize he does want a pet, all of his very own.
The book makes Mason keenly sympathetic as the kid resignedly towed along in the wake of others, not because he’s afraid but because he doesn’t want to make a fuss or hurt anybody’s feelings; readers will particularly and ruefully relate to the way his life keeps careening out of his control, no matter how hard he tries to rein it in. There’s plenty of age-appropriate wit to add a little comic distance to the situation, keeping things from getting too angsty. Even kids with wider comfort zones will relate to Mason’s trials, and they’ll look forward to his future outings.
Mills’s account of this quirky kid and his trials and tribulations is both funny and touching.