Written and Illustrated by David McPhail
Puffin Books, 1985
“I want a pet,” Emma told her mother one day.
The plot in a nutshell: Dissatisfied with her non-cuddly cat, Emma goes looking for a pet that she can cuddle. She tries bugs, fish, birds and more before realizing that her perfect pet is right in front of her!
This book has a special place in my heart because of its history in our family. It was one of the book club selections we received when the kids were little and it became a sentimental favorite pretty quickly. I’m posting my review today, on Father’s Day, because the ‘soft and cuddly’ pet that Emma finds is her own father, making this a wonderful book for kids to share with their dads, particularly if their dads are of the cuddly variety. While I suppose some fathers might grumble at the image of being soft and cuddly, most of the dads I know are comfortable with showing that side of themselves to their kids.
Author/illustrator David McPhail has a pretty astounding resume, with more than 200 books crediting him as author or illustrator. In addition to his own work, he has contributed artwork to books by such authors as Betsy Byars, Laura Numeroff, Rosemary Wells and his wife, Jan Waldron. He also provided the wonderful artwork I praised so highly in my review of All the Awake Animals are Almost Asleep during Alphabet Month. His art has a soft and lovable quality and his facial expressions are awesome.
This is not Mr. McPhail’s first book about Emma. She is featured in other books, such as Emma’s Vacation, where we get to see more of her family dynamic. These books are geared for very young kids, so they’re very short and quick to read. If you have a low tolerance for sappiness, though, you might want to give this one a miss. Personally, I have wonderful memories of my kids, particularly my oldest daughter, snuggling up close to her dad when we read this book and we all found it pretty adorable.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that your family members can fill multiple roles in your life if you take the time to notice all their best qualities. (And that dads are awesome. Happy Father’s Day!)