8 Class Pets is a great independent reading choice for the younger readers of Lovelace nominees in 2015-16. Vivian Vande Velde is a master of clear, direct dialogue and this is a huge advantage in this story of Twitch the Squirrel and his manic adventure through the school.
Looking for a way to escape a menacing owl, Twitch inadvertently runs over the nose of the principal’s dog and into the empty elementary school. And so the madcap chase begins. Twitch runs from classroom to classroom inside the school, assisted by various class pets in his efforts to now avoid the dog, Cuddles, who is in pursuit.
Each new school location provides a new animal narrator and a new perspective on the situation. Some animals are extremely motivated to help Twitch, some need convincing, and some have their own reasons for taking part in the elaborate hide-and-seek between Twitch and Cuddles.
Twitch, a hamster, a rat and the Principal’s dog–among others–all take a turn at narrating Twitch’s unplanned adventure through the elementary school. In 8 Class Pets Ms Vande Velde expertly offers young readers a variety of narrators expressing different viewpoints. Although not extraordinary in plot or characters, the simple plot and clear language makes 8 Class Pets an excellent independent or read-aloud choice from the Lovelace nominees for a 3rd grade classroom at the beginning of the school year as a bridge to more complicated story structure.