Thursday, October 22, 2015

Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

This is the fourth Stink book, but the first I've actually read. I had this in a collection of books about guinea pigs that I weeded out of my personal library in 2014.

Stink and his friend Sophie are helping their friend Webster build the Great Wall of China out of cereal boxes when they discover...guinea pigs! When they take the guinea pigs to Mrs. Birdwhistle at the pet shop, they discover that she has 101 guinea pigs - rescued from a lab. Now she has to find homes for them, and Stink and his friends are ready to help. They fix up a bus and take the guinea pigs on the road, looking for homes. But Stink has a hard time letting go of one special guinea pig - will he get to keep Astro?

The story is interspersed not only with black and white drawings but also with simple one-page comics, "Stink's Furry Facts" that add information about guinea pigs.

Although I hadn't read a Stink book before (or Judy Moody) it was easy to pick up the thread of the narrative. It's a light, fun story and at a little over 100 pages a perfectly serviceable beginning chapter book with humor, animals, a readable font, and attractive art. I did feel that the ending was a bit pat, with Stink getting Astro after all (would he really have survived the trip?) and I was skeptical that after being used as lab animals all the guinea pigs would have been immediately adoptable - none are shown with health problems or in poor condition. As it specifically states that they were ill-treated and used to test shampoo and perfume that's really, really unbelievable. There's some mild diversity in Stink's town - Mrs. Birdwhistle and the people in the crowd scenes and a brief note at the back has a caution about researching before adopting a pet.

Verdict: This is a solid and accessible series. A little bit of wish-fulfillment never hurt anyone and it's funny and interesting. A classic beginning chapter series that every library should own.

ISBN: 9780763628352; Published 2008 by Candlewick; From my personal collection (library owns a copy)

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