Friday, May 8, 2020

Want a Pet? Invent one!

by Vicky Fang; illus. by Tidawan Thaipinnarong
32 pages; ages 3 - 7
Sterling Children's Books, 2020

Invent-a-Pet won’t be released until June, but I wanted to share it before it got buried in the book basket.

theme: problem-solving, STEAM, pets

Katie was an ordinary girl who longed for an extraordinary pet.

Goldfish are too common. Katie wants something unique. Spectacular! So when a machine shows up at her home, Katie tries it out. There are three openings for feeding things into the machine, conveniently labeled “input”. And there’s a lever to pull. So Katie puts in a soccer ball, a blade of grass, and a carrot just to try it out. Then she pulls the lever and out pops a green, round bunny. Aha! she thinks. Now she can make the perfect pet.

What I like about this book: I like that Katie tries to create the perfect pet. She puts in things that she thinks will create a dragon – but other creatures come out. “How does this thing even work?” she asks. I like how Katie uses deductive reasoning to figure out how each input controls a specific variable: size, color, animal. I like how she changes one variable at a time on the machine and keeps notes until she figures out how the machine works. And I like seeing her final “equation” (or set of inputs) for the perfect pet.

I managed to catch up with Vicky by email for One Question:

Sally: What ingredients would YOU put into the Invent-a-Pet machine - and what would your unique pet look like?

Vicky: Ah, I love this question! And surprised I hadn’t thought of an answer before!
A football. A striped grey sock. A ball of yarn.
PUFF! A small, striped, grey kitten!
(Really, I've never had a kitten and I'd like one. And I think they're perfectly extraordinary just the way they are.)

Beyond the Books:

What, for you, makes an animal the “perfect” pet? Draw a picture of your perfect animal companion.

Design a machine to create the perfect pet. Raid the recycling bin and try building a model of your machine. Then write down a list of potential features of pets (size, color, habitat, diet, kind of animal) and then determine what three variables (inputs) to add to your machine.

Vicky is a member of #STEAMTeam2020. You can find out more about her at her website.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.


  1. I love how children are challenged to use deductive reasoning to figure out how to get the perfect object. Very clever story that belongs in a classroom -- can only imagine the fun kids would have.

  2. What a creative and fun way to learn cause and effect! And I'm still trying to figure out how you get a kitten from a football, LOL.

  3. So glad you featured Vicky's book! Great review and activities, Sue.