Cover image for The misadventures of Sweetie Pie
Title:
The misadventures of Sweetie Pie
Author:
Van Allsburg, Chris, author, illustrator.
Publication Information:
Boston ; New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2014]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 x 29 cm
Summary:
Sweetie Pie escapes the confines of his hamster cage (and several insufferable owners) to find a new home in the wild.
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.2 0.5 170386.
ISBN:
9780547315829
Format :
Book

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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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Summary

Summary

From two-time Caldecott winner Chris Van Allsburg, creator of Jumanji and The Polar Express, comes a poignant story of one hamster's struggle with destiny. Being a pet store hamster isn't much fun for Sweetie Pie, but life in human homes proves downright perilous. As Sweetie Pie longingly gazes out of his cage at the squirrels frolicking in the trees, he wonders if he'll ever have the chance to feel the wind in his fur. Allsburg's expressive, soft-hued illustrations artfully capture a hamster's-eye view of the wide and wonderful world where maybe, justmaybe, Sweetie Pie could someday run free.


Author Notes

Considered to be one of the foremost authors and illustrators of surrealistic fantasy for children, Chris Van Allsburg was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1949. He received his B. F. A. at the University of Michigan and his M. F. A. at the Rhode Island School of Design. He married Lisa Morrison and currently teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Van Allsburg's work is highly praised for the excellent artisanship of his illustrations, which often have a surreal element. His first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi (1979), concerning a lost dog found by a magician, and his second book, Jumanji (1981), about a strange board game that comes to life, brought him quick praise. Jumanji won the Caldecott Medal in 1982. The Polar Express (1985), Van Allsburg's most popular book, deals with the idea that the ability to believe in things beyond one's experiences helps to keep a person young. It also won a Caldecott Medal in 1986. Other books by Van Allsburg include The Z was Zapped, and Just a Dream, a story about a boy who learns to be ecological.

Van Allsburg's sculptures have also been exhibited at many New York galleries. (Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Sweetie Pie is the last hamster chosen at the pet store, but he remains cautiously optimistic about what lies ahead after a little girl takes him home. What he doesn't know yet is that Pigtails is the first of a series of unreliable children who will be his caretaker. Each child loses interest in succession, distracted by a new computer or a bigger dog, trading Sweetie Pie from one house to the next until, at last, he is left out in his cage in a blizzard, forgotten. He manages to escape, though, and finds happiness with an adopted family of squirrels, as the children turn their (temporary) attentions to a new class guinea pig. Van Allsburg's gentle shading and soft palette are at odds with the story's raw undercurrent; the narrative's direct, incidental prose offers a harsh indictment of the children's behavior, even as the fine character work, especially for Sweetie Pie himself, adds nuance and tenderness. Older children will awaken to the responsibilities of pet care and the deeper values of empathy and affection.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Thinking of getting a hamster? Read this first. Caldecott Medalist Van Allsburg chronicles the bleak existence of Sweetie Pie, neglected by one child after another. The hamster's first owner prefers screen time and sells Sweetie Pie to a boy with a hostile dog-readers receive a close-up, rodent's-eye view of the dog's slavering jaws. Next comes Cousin Sue, a girl with malicious eyes, who forces her pet into a clear plastic ball and rolls him down a hill ("Exhausted, Sweetie Pie waited for the girl to rescue him, but she never came"). Eventually, the hamster does time as a school pet. At the holidays, a boy promises "to take care of him," only to forget him on a playground as snow begins to fall; Sweetie Pie sinks "into a deep and frigid sleep." Van Allsburg does not play for laughs or pull his punches: when a teacher suggests that a kind child must have saved the icy hamster, "The children knew better." Sweetie Pie's grim and all-too-realistic experience raises ethical dilemmas, and a squirrel-ex-machina conclusion offers a happy ending, but little comfort. Ages 4-8. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Master storyteller Van Allsburg's latest children's book is about a frustrated hamster. He is bought by a girl and given the name Sweetie Pie, but she quickly grows tired of him and tries to sell him. As Sweetie Pie is passed from child to child, he yearns for the freedom of nature and a life uncaged. But his caretakers are unfortunately negligent; he's overfed, frightened by a large dog, abused inside an exercise ball, and finally forgotten in the snow. Children looking for a cute story about a misunderstood hamster will find this title bittersweet, in the vein of The Velveteen Rabbit. The story might serve as a cautionary tale for children who need lessons about how to treat their pets, but the more dismal scenes make it less than ideal for storytime. Van Allsburg's backgrounds and designs feel much more simplistic than previous works, and his normal sepia color scheme has been traded in for bright colors and limited shadow, keeping the book's tone as lighthearted as possible given its serious nature. Although a departure from his other masterpieces like Jumanji (1991) and Polar Express (1985, both Houghton Harcourt), Misadventures of Sweetie Pie is an additional purchase for most collections.- Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.