Thanks Kidlit Exchange and Scholastic for yet another ARC: The start of Spy Next Door author/illustrator Jay Cooper’s new middle-grade series, THE PEPPER PARTY PICKS THE PERFECT PET is funny and outrageous… in case the title didn’t give that away.
Annie Pepper, second-youngest child in a crazy family reminiscent of The Loud House, falls in love with Azzie the Chihuahua from has-been movie star Frida Flamingo’s shelter. She uses guilt and statistics about abandoned pets to push against the Pepper family’s No Pets Rule.
Thanks to a weird tradition established by their ancestor, the comically infamous worst magician of the 20th century, the Peppers cycle through a sibling war of sabotage involving four over-the-top, short-lived pets.
The jokes appeal to parents (Elvis puns) and kids (bananas in chili, bird falling in love with a cat). Annie has enough brothers, and the Pepper family has enough extreme archetype personalities (electric oboe rocker, debate queen, obnoxious toddler) that boys shouldn’t balk at this book.
Give this to: A kid who needs a funny book to urge them to transition from chapter books to true upper middle-grade; fans of The Loud House, Aaron Blabey’s Bad Guys series, and Troy Cummings’ Notebook of Doom series.
Caveat: I’ll just be honest… NOT a fan of the “just return the pets to the shelter” actions of the Pepper parents throughout most of the book. The Pepper kids are devastated when this happens, and the parents do see consequences – lecture and ban on adopting. The climax involves Annie taking hilarious and drastic action to help all the shelter pets get adopted.
I’ll just give a spoiler alert since this is such a hot button: The climax involves Annie taking hilarious and drastic action to help all the shelter pets get adopted. The Peppers re-adopt the four discarded pets and Azzie the Chihuahua after a well-deserved lecture on responsible pet ownership.
However, this book is funny and fast-paced enough, and with busy cartoon-style illustrations that readers will keep turning pages.
THE PEPPER PARTY PICKS THE PERFECT PET hits shelves May 28, 2019 from Scholastic (or likely, hits your book order form sooner).
Look for book 2, THE PEPPER PARTY FAMILY FEUD FACE-OFF (starting type A brainiac Maria Pepper) hopefully shortly after.