Friday, April 25, 2014

Guinea Pigs Online by Jennifer Gray and Amanda Swift

I would never have thought of using guinea pigs to teach online safety, and I have to admit I still don't think it's particularly efficacious, but it sure is fun!

Fuzzy and Coco are best friends (no, not that kind of friends! There will be no baby guinea pigs) even though Fuzzy's attempts to cook annoy Coco and Coco's insistence that she used to live in the palace and knows the queen annoy Fuzzy. But then they have a quarrel, a really bad one. And Fuzzy is missing! Coco will have to learn how to Go Online and get some help from other guinea pigs before she can save Fuzzy, reunite with the queen, and crush the sinister plans of Scarlet Cleaver, who is looking for guinea pigs to test out her new restaurant...or maybe to test out something else!

This reminds me of Michael Bond's Olga da Polga stories. Not that anybody knows them anymore (sigh) but they feature a delightful guinea pig with an independent mind and a penchant for storytelling. These guinea pigs are much more contemporary of course, and they actually go on adventures instead of just imagining them. The story is wacky and silly and rather British, but I can still see kids who are just getting into chapters really getting into this one.

Verdict: A little longer than an average beginning chapter book (almost 200 pages) the bold print and illustrations will encourage beginning chapter readers to tackle this one. I thought the online safety tips at the end were kind of superfluous - it's hard to see kids extrapolating from a nonsense story about a guinea pig to their own online experience, but it's a fun added touch. Not a necessary purchase perhaps, but fun to add if you have the budget and lots of beginning chapter readers.

ISBN: 9781623650377; Published 2013 by Quercus; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to my library's wishlist

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