Growing Reader

Move Over, Rover: 10 Picture Books That Feature Unusual Pets

by Melissa Taylor

Children love pets, but let’s think outside the cat, dog, and fish box for a moment. What other, odd pets might kids also adopt? These picture books tell stories of unusual pets: a sloth, a rock, a microbe — you name it. I’m already getting ideas…

  • A Piglet Named Mercy

    by Kate DiCamillo

    Mercy Watson is an adorable, mischievous pig who stars in her own beginning chapter book series. In this sweet origin story, learn how Mercy becomes a Watson after falling off a truck near Mr. and Mrs. Watson’s house. It’s good timing because the Watsons are just realizing that their lives seem pretty predictable. Not for long! Now they have Mercy, a toast-loving porcine wonder, in their family.

  • My Tiny Pet

    by Jessie Hartland

    When your parents want a minimalist lifestyle, pets must go. But this clever girl has a plan. She convinces her parents to let her get a very, very small pet. One that’s so small, you can’t see it without a microscope: a tardigrade, or water bear. The girl loves her new pet and takes it everywhere, even when her family downsizes again.
    (On Sale: 8/6/19)

  • Charlotte and the Pet Rock

    by Stephen W. Martin, illustrated by Samantha Cotterill

    Charlotte’s parents get her a surprising pet for her birthday. A rock. It’s not exactly what Charlotte wants, but she names him Dennis and makes the best of it. In fact, Charlotte does everything with him: plays games, goes swimming, takes baths, everything. Until one night, Dennis hatches! You’ll love the surprise ending and may wish for a pet “rock” of your own.

  • My Favorite Pets

    by Jeanne Birdsall, illustrated by Harry Bliss

    Gus’s favorite pets are sheep, which he explains in a hilariously written homework assignment filed with personality and random facts. “Seventeen sheep are still sheep, not sheeps.” This silly but informative story will keep kids laughing from beginning to end with illustrations that perfectly capture the many weird details Gus shares in his report.

  • Melissa’s Octopus and Other Unsuitable Pets

    by Charlotte Voake

    If you’re looking for a unique pet, this goofy book will explain why a mole, an octopus, a chameleon, a warthog, and other unusual choices are NOT suitable as pets. (You should see the mess an octopus makes in the bathroom!) After listing many unsuitable pets, you’ll come to learn that the most unsuitable pet of all is a toothy crocodile who — yikes — eats the kids from the story. (Please be aware that sensitive readers may not love this ending.)

  • Pirate’s Perfect Pet

    by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Matt Myers

    Pirate Captain Crave checks everything off the pirate-captain checklist except one item: owning a pet. He and his crew search high and low for the perfect pirate pet, but a pig is too muddy, a crab too cranky, an octopus too clingy, and an elephant too big. Finally, he arrives at a pet store where he meets a parrot who poops on him and creates a ruckus — the perfect pet for a pirate.

  • Dinosaur Pet

    by Marc Sedaka, illustrated by Tim Bowers

    Starting with January, each month marks a special milestone in the life of this boy’s pet dinosaur. As the boy shares each month’s highlights, we’re reassured that even though the dinosaur grows bigger and bigger, the boy loves his dinosaur every day of the year. The jaunty (and totally addictive) “Dinosaur Pet” song will have kids dancing around the house and practicing the months of the year.

  • Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet

    by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Bob Shea

    Gilbert is a goldfish who seemingly has it all. Except, sadly, he doesn’t have a pet. He dreams of little pets and big pets. But neither a noisy, thirsty dog, a small, quiet mouse, nor a buzzy fly wants to be his pet. Finally, in a funny plot-twist ending, a curious new creature with whiskers and pointy ears becomes Gilbert’s new pet. And no, it’s not what you think.

  • Pet Show

    by Ezra Jack Keats

    Archie can’t find his runaway cat for the pet show. Eventually, he gives up searching and shows up to the pet show with a different, more unusual pet: a germ named Al, stored in a glass jar. At the same time, an old woman arrives with Archie’s cat. Both are awarded ribbons and go home happy.

  • Sparky

    by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Chris Appelhans

    When her mom tells her that she can have a pet as long as it doesn’t need to be walked, bathed, or fed, the little girl in this story picks … a sloth. At first she is sad because her sloth doesn’t do well, anything. But, in a sweet message of acceptance, the girl grows to love her pet sloth for being exactly who he is.