I’ve already done posts about cats, dogs, and animals in general. Books starring animals are also included in just about every other topic post. There are just a LOT of books about animals for kids! So here are our favorite children’s books about pets. It probably helps Boy Detective live vicariously since a household pet isn’t on our agenda right now. (He’s so oppressed!)
(Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.)
My picture book posts were published and then occasionally expanded between 2012-2015, with reviews based on reading with my kiddo between preschool age and about eight years old. As of 2023-24, I’m freshening up my lists and adding more recs.
One Word From Sophia by writer Jim Averbeck and illustrator Yasmeen Ismail
There’s something for everyone in this book: a multi-racial family, a strong girl character, a compelling slideshow, public opinion polling, big words, a tutu, and some great hair. The girl is Sophia, who has a deep, desperate yearning for a pet giraffe. It’s her One True Desire. Her birthday’s coming up. She’s thought of all the angles… but none of them are working on her family. What’s she going to do?! I had so much fun reading this out loud. Averbeck’s prose flows beautifully, and even C-Man was cracking up as Sophia was shot down with proposal after proposal. Her grandmother’s reaction is the best. Ismail’s art just explodes with joy. I hope she had as much fun drawing the characters as I had looking at them. In a world where books with leading characters of color are sadly lacking, this is a fantastic book for increasing diversity in children’s literature. Bravo!
Hondo and Fabian by Peter McCarty
I love McCarty’s gift for understatement, especially when his words say one thing and the picture tells a different and funnier story. His art in this book, and Fabian Escapes, is done in a soft style but has the right amount of energy for the story. And this cat and dog’s adventures and misadventures will ring true for anyone who’s ever lived with pets.
John Willy and Freddie McGee by Holly Meade
I never thought I’d like a book about guinea pigs, since I don’t really care much for actual guinea pigs. But the exuberance of these two guinea pigs escaping their cage in search of adventure and excitement totally won me over. Their experience in the pool table is too funny, since I would never have expected that to be one of their destinations.
Granny Gomez & Jigsaw by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Scott Magoon
This book is all about the love, and Granny Gomez is an extremely cool lady. She has a number of interesting hobbies such as watching cooking shows, doing puzzles, gardening, playing drums, and rock climbing. But she’s lonely, since neither her Petunias and tulips can’t exactly provide friendly conversation. (If they did, this would be a totally different book.) So her friend William brings her a surprise – a pet pig! Yet it’s not too long before Jigsaw isn’t little anymore, and they have to figure out a solution for their living quarters. I have never wanted to live in a barn before, but honestly, I was tempted by the end of this book.
A Pet for Petunia, by Paul Schmid
Petunia wants a pet skunk. She NEEDS a pet skunk. She’ll DIE if she doesn’t have a pet skunk! If only her parents would agree. Schmid captures Petunia’s pleading and indignation perfectly with only a black colored pencil (?) and 2 colors of paint. It’s not a complicated story, but it’s funny and the zinger at the end left me wishing for a sequel.
Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers
The first laugh in this book is on just Day Two of the goldfish’s diary. I thought that was a good sign. I was right. Each of the unwelcome additions to the goldfish’s bowl is described by an increasingly anguished fish, until something has to give! Even though the end was no surprise to me, Scillian paces the humor and the plot so well, I didn’t mind. And Boy Detective thought it was fantastic.
And that’s the list!