Cody Harmon: King of Pets
Junior Library Guild Selection
Amazon Editors’ Pick
How I Came to Write This Book
When it came time to add a fifth book to the Franklin School Friends series, this time starring pet-loving Cody Harmon, I had tons of fun thinking of ways to add conflict and drama to the all-school pet show. I had no pets of my own growing up, but I now reside with Snickers-the- cat and Tanky-the- dog, so I had some good first hand experience to note conflicts between energetic dogs and crawling toddlers. The star rooster was added at the suggestion of my friend Michelle Begley, rooster lover and former member of my Boulder writing group. After her tragic death from a car accident just before the book was published, our group renamed itself “The Writing Roosters” in her honor, and this book is dedicated to her memory.
When Franklin School principal Mr. Boone announces a pet-show fundraiser, white third-grader Cody—whose lack of skill and interest in academics is matched by keen enthusiasm for and knowledge of animals—discovers his time to shine. As with other books in this series, the children and adults are believable and well-rounded. Even the dialogue is natural—no small feat for a text easily accessible to intermediate readers. Character growth occurs, organically and believably. Students occasionally, humorously, show annoyance with teachers: "He made mad squinty eyes at Mrs. Molina, which fortunately she didn't see." Readers will be kept entertained by Cody's various problems and the eventual solutions. His problems include needing to raise $10 to enter one of his nine pets in the show (he really wants to enter all of them), his troublesome dog Angus—"a dog who ate homework—actually, who ate everything and then threw up afterward"—struggles with homework, and grappling with his best friend's apparently uncaring behavior toward a squirrel. Serious values and issues are explored with a light touch. The cheery pencil illustrations show the school's racially diverse population as well as the memorable image of Mr. Boone wearing an elephant costume. . . .Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading.
Good character development, as well as lots of plot to keep newly independent readers engaged. VERDICT Another good entry in this realistic fiction series perfect for young readers.