Peggy’s Impossible Tale
Peggy’s Impossible Tale
I raced back and forth in my cage, squeaking as loud as I could, “Look at me! Look at me!”
“Isn’t she the cutest!” Lisa exclaimed.
She noticed me!
“Would you like to hold her?” Sandy asked.
When the cage door opened, I jumped into Lisa’s arms.
Lisa smothered me in kisses. I kissed her back. I knew right then that Lisa and I would be best friends. (p. 7)
The first sentence of Peggy’s Impossible Tale states, “I am Peggy and I am a guinea pig. This is my true story.” Peggy and Lisa meet at Noah’s Ark Pet Store in Vancouver. Lisa and her mother are looking for the perfect pet for young Lisa, and they find Peggy who is “just an ordinary guinea pig with short white hair and small pink ears.” However, readers will soon discover that Peggy is anything but ordinary!
Lisa is enchanted by her new friend. They sleep together; they talk to each other; they dance together; and they eat picnic lunches of lettuce leaf sandwiches and fruit. Peggy waits for Lisa to return from school each day at three-thirty. Peggy greets her with a squeak, and Lisa is amazed that Peggy can tell time and knows when she is getting home from school.
When Peggy is alone, she roams freely around the spacious three-storey house. She has incredible adventures climbing stairs, exploring the dusty attic, and staying away from electrical plugs that can zap her and the grumbling air-sucking machine! Peggy becomes part of the family. She knows that the doorbell signals visitors. She knows that beeping microwave cooks “yummy” food. She particularly enjoys watching the “talking picture box” snuggled together with the family and eating popcorn.
Peggy’s Impossible Tale is an intriguing chapter book for very young readers. Peggy is an enthusiastic and energetic character who comes alive on the pages of this book. She is a family pet who is loved by her owner Lisa and the entire family, but she is also very perceptive about the dangers in the home (electrical cords, vacuums) as well as those in the wider world (cats, crows). She adapts to new circumstances very quickly when she learns to climb stairs and walk outside on a leash with her owner. When she wins the Special Pets Contest, she is amazed.
Mariko Ando’s illustrations are vibrant and detailed. They are mostly black and white with skillful additions of colour to emphasize important aspects of the storyline. They add an important visual element to the storyline which will help young readers to relate to the characters and their experiences. Peggy, Lisa, her family, and her friends come to life in these intricate drawings.
Peggy’s Impossible Tale is ideal for young readers just starting to read chapter books. It is told in the first person from Peggy’s point of view which gives readers insight into what she is experiencing. Most chapters are one page long with short paragraphs, and each chapter includes an interesting graphic element to help illustrate the storyline. Peggy’s Impossible Tale would also be a good choice for a read-aloud. There are several compelling topics explored in this novel: pet care, friendship, new environments, discovery, adaptation, determination, fears, and challenges. Young readers (and the adults who read with them) will definitely enjoy this joyful look at the life of the determined young guinea pig named Peggy!
Myra Junyk, a resident of Toronto, Ontario, is a literacy advocate and author.