The Pet War

by Allan Woodrow (2013)

Want to spark a competition? Want to spark a debate?  Give The Pet War a try!

“Little Miss Perfect” takes on “Mr. Good-Enough” in Allan Woodrow’s tale of sibling-rivalry with an entrepreneurial twist.

A resourceful, yet tired single mom wants nothing to do with umpiring her kids’ argument about getting a family pet.  After hearing Lexi’s boardroom-worthy presentation for a cat, and Otto’s desperate pleas for a dog, Mom decides to remove herself from the decision by creating a competition for them:  Whoever can raise $500 in a month will get to choose the family pet.

So begins the war, and Otto’s hilarious attempts to finally, finally be better than his sister at something.  Otto is persistent and ingenious, full of money-making schemes (selling his body parts for medical experiments? selling all of his sister’s clothes at a garage sale? setting up a kissing booth?) that are sure to generate business ideas from readers – and spark competition in the hallways. While aligning themselves as Team Cat or Team Dog, readers will laugh their way through Otto’s unabashed, but often self-imploding business attempts as he learns the meaning of responsibility.

Not to be missed in this sometimes-sophomoric venture is Woodrow’s skillful, kid-friendly, figurative language, which ought to inspire some readers to explore their inner creative writer.  The insults that Otto and his best friend Malcolm hurl, in a way that only best friends can get away with, take on a different twist as the boys show respect for a well-worded zinger:

“Fart face.”

“Pickle head.”

“French-fry breath.”

“Amoeba-brained fungus oozing scooter head.”

“Good one.”

“Thanks.”

Rife with competition, The Pet War is not just another novel about a brother-sister battle, but a lesson in economics as well.  Offered as one of Read to Them’s Family Financial Literacy titles, schools can explore financial concepts along with Otto and Lexi as they learn the hard way about supply and demand, production and labor costs, and the importance of being organized.  Through supplemental activities, families and classes can try their hands at start-ups, competitions, and get ready for their Shark Tank pitches.

Looking for a title to spark a school-wide contest? The Pet War is it!