These days, it seems like just about everyone is looking to clear out and pare down. In fact, for many people — myself included — Marie Kondo (author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the upcoming children’s book Kiki & Jax) has become a verb.
“I’m about to Marie Kondo the heck out of this playroom,” I have said, while standing in the middle of a room so infested with toys I can’t even take a step without fear of bodily harm. “This does not bring me joy.”
The idea of downsizing and simplifying has become a cultural phenomenon. Entire television programs, magazines, and websites are dedicated to tiny houses. There are even tiny house resorts that you can vacation in.
It’s no surprise that this idea has hilariously found its way into children’s literature with Jessie Hartland’s My Tiny Pet.
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The story starts with the narrator — a clever little girl, living with her parents in a great big house in a bustling city. You would think a three-person family would have no need for such a huge house, but this particular family has a whole lot of pets. In fact, it’s a veritable zoo with cats, dogs, hedgehogs, an octopus, and everything in between.
It’s not long before the animals start to take over the place, and Mom and Dad have had enough. It’s time to Marie Kondo their lives.
The family decides to downsize. After rehoming all of their animals (and undoubtedly gifting them better lives in the process), the family moves to a tiny little cabin in the middle of the woods. Life is quiet and simple, with plenty of time to do the things that make them happy.
There’s just one problem: the girl really wants a pet.
As luck would have it, a science lesson on micro-animals gives the spunky protagonist a brilliant idea. What if she gets a tiny pet, one that is “smaller than the eye of an ant”?
Slowly but surely, she convinces her reluctant parents that a tardigrade — an amazingly resilient microscopic creature that looks like a bear — would make an absolutely perfect pet. It requires no special care, will never grow, and can survive without food and water for ten whole years.
Mixing silliness and science, My Tiny Pet is the super cute story of one incredibly resourceful girl who uses creative thinking and a whole lot of tenacity to get a pet her family will always have room for — even when they decide to downsize to a tree house even deeper in the woods.
Hartland mixes an exaggerated, fantastical version of our world with a splash of science in a way that is sure to bring both giggles and curiosity. The author’s note at the back of the book gives a little bit of information about the tardigrade that will leave budding scientists and creature lovers yearning to learn more.
Little readers will love the playful gouache illustrations that add another layer of humor to the story. And — if they’re anything like my daughter, who is now used to my constant urge to simplify — they might just look up and say, “We’re not going to do that, are we?”