A few days ago I read Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima. I adored her previous books (Not Quite Narwhal, Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies, etc.) and was really looking forward to this one. It did not disappoint.
The book is almost entirely wordless (only some title cards at intervals throughout the story really have text) and it is structured like an old silent movie. The story revolves around a boy (Spencer, I assume) and his pet balloon animal that appears to be a red dog.
It’s unclear how alive or not the dog is, but it ultimately doesn’t matter, since Spencer clearly believes he is alive. He is well aware of the constant dangers that exist for a pet that can be destroyed by anything sharp, though, and much of the action of book revolves around trying to protect the dog from various unintentional threats.
The art is adorable and I love how expressive both Spencer and the dog are throughout the book. Everything is in grayscale colors like a black and white movie except for the dog himself, who serves as a bright pop of red on every page.
Several pages create a sense of frantic action by showing the dog and Spencer several times on a wild chase through the park and a birthday party. It’s fun to pause and follow the path and identify all of the potential threats on each chase spread!
The details throughout are fantastic. I love that Spencer chose Pygmalion to read to his dog (it’s so entertainingly appropriate!) and the birthday party is filled with other balloon animals who likewise seem to be animate and running around, even as we see a clown creating them!
This is such a fun book and actually made me gasp in shock out loud as I was reading it (no spoilers on that – read it for yourself!), which I wasn’t expecting. It has a wonderfully complex sense of humor throughout and the characters are incredibly charming, especially given that they have no dialogue to win over the reader with!