Talking pets? Yes please! ‘The School for Talking Pets’ by Kelli Anne Hawkins
August 25, 2021
This book ticks many boxes for lots of children: pets (of all kinds), a school that is actually fun, making new friends, and two baddies who want to rule the world.
The main character, Rusty, is a very ordinary boy who suffers from low confidence and has not had much go right in his young life. He wins a competition that takes him and his best friend, his pet blue tongue lizard Bongo, to a secret island, where he hopes Bongo will learn to talk at the School for Talking Pets.
There are other youngsters who arrive with him, from Japan, Germany, England and the USA, all hopeful that their pets will also talk.
Things don’t go quite as smoothly as they might have wanted, though, because there are two secret spies sent to the island by people who plan to use the animals for their own nefarious purposes. By the end, Rusty and Bongo are the unlikely heroes.
I loved that the school is the brainwave of Miss Alice Einstein, the great-granddaughter of the famous scientist Albert. I also enjoyed the nod to the principles of effective education: Believe in learners. Listen to them. Lead by example. Make learning interesting. Give learners time and freedom to learn at their own pace.
Hmmm… wouldn’t it be great if all teaching could be like that?
The School for Talking Pets combines friendly animals, some madcap adventure, and a mystery to solve, in a package that will be sure to please middle-grade readers who love their pets.
The School for Talking Pets is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in September 2021. My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.