Sunday, December 20, 2009

Goldfish Don't Take Bubble Baths (Abby and Tess Pet-Sitters)

Title : Goldfish Don't Take Bubble Baths (Abby and Tess Pet-Sitters)
Author: Trina Wiebe
Illustrator: Meredith Johnson
Ages : 4-8
Publisher : Lobster Press

Welcome to my first book review on Saffron Tree! Thanks to the ST folks for extending a warm invitation to me to be a part of this wonderful team.

To start with, I would love to narrate one interesting anecdote from my childhood. I remember when we were very small, my sister and I used to love eating the meat of the melon seeds. It was a big effort to get those seeds cleaned first, to remove the pulp in which they are encased. Mostly we used to clean the seeds using a couple of vessels and a sieve. But one day we had a brilliant idea - we thought we should use the rough floor of our verandah for spreading the seeds on, it was easier this way as we could just squeeze the seeds and set them free from their pulp. It worked really fine and we were happy that we could accomplish the task sooner than previous times. When we brought the bowl of all clean shining seeds inside to enjoy them, our elder sister pointed out that the place where we kept the seeds on the floor is not a clean one and we walk on that floor all the time, we should not eat these seeds. That made us a little uncomfortable (as we were about to put the seeds in our mouths to pop them open) but we didn't want to lose our seeds, so we decided to wash the same seeds with "Surf" (detergent powder for washing clothes) and then have them. It seemed like the most intelligent idea we had at that time.

Not quite similar but somehow after almost 25 years I was reminded of this incident when I was reading - "Goldfish Don't Take Bubble Baths" , to my children. Innocent minds just know very simple ways to clean things up or bring some change.

In this book, the unaware Tess decides to give the goldfish a bubble bath by putting Dish Detergent in their tank, to make the goldfish feel better.

This book is the first one of the series of - Abby and Tess Pet-Sitters. Two sisters Abby (elder one) and the younger one - Tess are desperate to have a pet of their own, but cannot do so because of the building rules - No pets allowed.

Abby wants to be a Veterinarian when she grows up and loves reading books on different animals. Tess is imaginative and likes to behave like a puppy to express herself. Fortunately Abby gets a chance to fish-sit Mrs. Wilson's goldfish - Speedy and Slowpoke, when Mrs. Wilson went out of town for a week. She tries to get as much information on goldfish as possible by reading various books from the library on goldfish. As this is the first "pet-sitting" project that came Abby's way, she wants to prove to her parents that she is responsible enough to take care of Speedy and Slowpoke in the best possible manner. She wants to do it perfectly so that she can request her parents for the permission to start a pet-sitting business of her own.

The whole new experience starts and that is when while accompanying Abby to Mrs. Wilson's apartment to check on the goldfish, Tess does her bit too and it is interesting how Abby rescues the goldfish who seemingly do not like the soapy water. That is when all the information that Abby had gathered from the books comes handy. Obviously very angry at Tess's philanthropic act of making goldfish feel happier, Abby decides to take care of Speedy and Slowpoke all by herself. But later when just two days are left of this job, something terrible happens which can completely ruin all the impression that she wants to build to earn future pet-sitting projects. It is very natural that in the most miserable conditions, we tend to feel bad for what we do wrong, similarly, Abby now feels bad for Tess and talks to her and apologizes to her for her indifference towards her. Then two of them together try to save the situation. Initially Abby thinks of hiding it from her parents but then realizes that taking responsibility means owning the mistakes too and surprisingly for her, her parents understand that everyone makes mistakes and making mistakes is so human. They still decide to give her a chance to pet-sit in future too. The same night Abby gets busy in preparations for her exciting pet-sitting job with Tess as her reliable assistant.

We read this book over a few days, one chapter everyday, keeping the curiosity of kids high. Everyday they used to wait for the designated reading hour. A wonderful way to introduce children to the habitats, eating habits and other characteristic features of different animals along with some messages - working together is always better than working alone, owning the mistakes instead of hiding them. Getting such messages from different sources and in different situations always help in making the values firmer in their impressionable minds.

{Image courtesy :}


sathish said...

Hi vibha, Welcome to ST.

I especially liked the fact that you introduced us to your own personal story as a bait to lure us into the book! :)

utbtkids said...

Surf to was seeds, LOL!

Cute personal story and great review.

Choxbox said...

Nice pick, Vibha.

LOLing at your story!

Meera Sriram said...

Very amusing indeed! And something kids can easily relate to.

Welcome aboard Vibha! You have ST to share your story whenever a book evokes an emotion or experience:)

Archana Srinivas Pottery said...

Vibha- Congrats on your first book review on ST.

Lovely review and very cute personal story:-)

Looking forward to many more...


ranjani.sathish said...

That was a very nice pick and a great detailed review Vibha ! Teaching the animal food habits and behaviour through such stories seems to be a great idea. I should try this for my son.

Praba Ram said...

Hi Vibha,

Great to see you on ST! Pets make wonderful stories and you've picked a fun one for your very first review.

Surf as a source for some memory from childhood - very funny, indeed! Hope no squirrels/sparrows ate your melon seeds after you discarded them! :-)

"Getting such messages from different sources and in different situations always help in making the values firmer in their impressionable minds. " - totally agree. That's when books and stories come handy when you actually don't have a village to raise a kid! :-)

Anusha said...

welcome to ST, Vibha!
and enjoyed your childhood story as much as your review! look forward to reading books like this as my kids grow older..

Vibha said...

Thanks for the lovely comments. Its great feeling to be part of this group.

Have a bright Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all of you.

Tharini said...

LOL. Sounds like quite a cheeky story! The cover looks bright and cheery and full of promise of exciting adventures inside!

Choxbox said...

The current rage in these parts, around six of the series - thanks Vibs, picked them up only because I remembered your review.

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