CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 22 . . . . June 22, 2007
In Cheetah, Wendy Lewis introduces children to the familiar moral dilemma of taking a wild animal out of nature to keep it as a pet. Lewis’ main character, Mia, is in grade three or four. While spending the afternoon with her father near a swamp, she discovers a leopard frog and is so enchanted she convinces her father to let her take it home, but he insists it is only for a week.
During the week that Mia keeps her leopard frog, which she names “Cheetah,” the author has her character come up against the issues of providing the proper habitat, providing the proper food and providing the proper general care. Mia struggles to make a proper tank for Cheetah and is unsure of what to feed her. She takes her frog to school where she lets all of her classmates pet the frog. Through all of this, Cheetah declines in health, and Mia’s mother discovers that leopard frogs are “ . . . at risk. That’s almost like being endangered.”
Graham Ross’ illustrations, which are black and white drawings, take up a full page of each 4 to 5 page chapter. They clearly illustrate the main event of the chapter and add to the reader’s understanding of the text.
Mia and readers learn that, while it is exciting to make a pet out of a creature found in the wild, it is not a good idea. These creatures are difficult to care for and are probably in a far better place being left alone in their natural environment.
Robert Groberman is a grade one and grade two teacher at Kirkbride Elementary School in Surrey, BC.
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