Children’s Book Reviews
Children's Book Reviews: Colette's Lost Pet
Publish September 19, 2017
Colette’s Lost Pet, written and illustrated by three-time Governor General’s Literary Award winner Isabelle Arsenault, is a beguiling picture book about friendship and imagination. Having just moved to Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood, Colette is bored, lonely, and frustrated that her parents won’t let her get a pet. When she meets some kids, out of nervousness, she tells a little fib about looking for a lost bird. Soon an enthusiastic search party comes to her aid. Colette keeps the conversation going by spinning a tall tale about her parakeet Marie-Antoinette, who speaks French, surfs, and travels the world. The invented yarn is stretched to outlandishly funny, fantastical proportions. Colette’s new pals probably know that she is making everything up, but they wholeheartedly enjoy the imaginative, “truly amazing” adventures she takes them on, and can’t wait to “explore the jungle” tomorrow.
Isabelle Arsenault’s exquisite, fine-lined pencil and ink illustrations are both subtle and striking. Sporting a sunny yellow raincoat, with the hood tied in place with a bow under her chin, Colette stands out on the black and white pages. Her sweet vulnerability comes across in her initially timid stance, with downcast eyes and reddening cheeks. Colette’s make-believe storytelling is not deviously deceitful – it builds a sense of community and togetherness. This nuanced new-kid-on-the-block tale sparkles with warmth and grace.
Linda Ludke is a librarian at London Public Library. Her reviews have appeared in Quill and Quire, School Library Journal and CM: Canadian Review of Materials. When she’s not reading and writing she also loves searching for vintage treasures.
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