Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Perfect Pet 
by Margie Palatini
Illustrated by Bruce Whatley

The Perfect Pet is a great mentor text to introduce the art of persuasive writing!  

Many students will identify with the main character, Elizabeth, who desperately and humorously tries various kinds of approaches to coax, cajole and convince her parents to let her have a pet.  To no avail.

For your mini lessons, zero in on the persuasive language the author uses with her character to sway her parents. Although Elizabeth does not get her way in the book (well…she kind of does), the arguments for having a pet that Elizabeth gives her parents can serve as one model for your students for this type of writing—especially if they are new to persuasive /argumentative writing.

The Perfect Pet would be especially effective as a mentor text for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. The students will relate to Elizabeth in many ways. The Perfect Pet also has a lot of easy conversation throughout the story. It would also be an excellent mentor for using correct quotation punctuation for dialogue.

Book Talk
Elizabeth wants a pet in the worse way, but her parents are adamant when they say ‘no’!

Instead, they give her a plant to take care of—a cactus, no less, that Elizabeth named Carolyn.

This motivates Elizabeth to try all kinds of strategies to convince her parents to let her have a pet.  She decides to try different techniques and pleads for a different animal with each different technique.

For example:
Approach: Catch them off Guard (to ask for a dog)
Approach: The Element of Surprise (to ask for a horse)
Approach: The Full Stomach (to ask for a cat)
Approach: Go For Broke (to ask for a variety of animals)

Some favorite lines: 
“So, how about a horse?”
“Huh? What? Who?” said Father.
“Huh? What? Who?” said Mother.
“I could ride it, Give it carrots. Lumps of sugar. A horse would be the perfect pet. Whaddya say?”

Elizabeth finally stops trying to persuade her parents—because she does discover a pet and quietly keeps it a secret.  She discovers an insect, whom she names ‘Doug’. Elizabeth quietly feeds him crumbs, lets him help her with her homework and snuggles with him for a bedtime story.

Elizabeth decides that Doug is definitely ‘The Perfect Pet’! 

Then Mom notices Doug one day and does not understand his importance in Elizabeth’s life—and almost squashes him!!  Elizabeth saves him, explains about him to Mom and they all become one big, happy family!

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reading Workshop strategies: Connecting, Inferring, Questioning, Summarizing
Writing Workshop genre and strategies: Opinion Writing /Persuasive Writing, Narrative Writing, Character Development, Strong Female, Strong Lead, Grammar (quotation marks)

Margie Palatini’s website:
Bruce Whatley's website:

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