The Perils of Pet Sitting

posted in: Tim Hopgood | 11

Life and books (as if they really were two separate things!) came together just beautifully this weekend.

To start with, we’ve been looking after our neighbour’s cat, a tom cat, which for some reason M and J have renamed Alice. Not having any pets of our own, it always makes the girls very happy to be tasked with taking care of Alice.

We also received a copy of Tim Hopgood‘s latest picture book, Thank You for Looking After Our Pets. And as big Tim Hopgood fans (see our reviews of earlier books here, here, here and even here) there was much excitement and anticipation as we opened the front cover and began reading.

Thank You for Looking After Our Pets takes a very simple idea but executes it with heaps of humour and an explosion of colour. Essentially one long note to the pet-looker-after-er containing some points to bear in mind whilst the pet owners are away, it quickly becomes clear that the pets in this home are no ordinary pets, despite initial appearances.

There’s Cuddly the Crocodile, Spock the Snake, Vincent the Vulture and even Winston the Warthog in amongst the menagerie. The list gets crazier and crazier, and just when you think there is finally one “normal” pet in the house you get taken by surprise with not one but two clever twists. The first one is such that if you and your kids are fans of Ten Terrible Dinosoars by Paul Stickland, then you’ll adore this book. And when you really think there is no where left to go, the final flourish takes things just that little bit further – it’s brilliant humour with real bite!

The story had my girls rolling around with laughter. The final turn of events still has me shaking my head in amazement – a really witty, unexpected ending, that loses none of its enjoyment now we can anticipate it.

One of the reasons I particularly love Tim Hopgood’s work is because he uses colour so brilliantly. His palette always cheers me up – he embraces colour, vibrancy, intensity with a passion. This book is no exception.

His drawings in this book are as deceptively simple as his text, a combination which makes this a perfect book for younger listeners from babies upwards, whilst the revelations at the book’s denouement will have school aged kids (and their parents) giggling in delight.

If you are going to be asking any friends or neighbours with kids to look after your pets this summer this really is the gift you should give them to say thankyou. If you have pets yourself, or have ever longed for pets you need this book. If you want to read a book that makes you feel happier, brighter and causes you to laugh out loud, this is the book for you! All in all, another winner! Thank you Tim!

Once we’d read Thank You for Looking After Our Pets to each other, to Alice, and to a group of honoured toys, we talked about what pet we would choose from the book if we could have only one of them at home. M immediately begged for some snakes and so snakes were what we then set about creating.

Given Tim’s bold use of colour we chose the most cheerful, vivid thin card we could find and drew around a series of plates. M cut out the circles and then both girls decorated them with simple stickers.

We turned the decorated circles over and I drew a spiral coming out from the centre of each circle. Older (or more patient) kids could cut along the spiral lines, but in this case I did it. The circles were flipped back over and the girls added snake eyes in the centre.

We then hung our slither of snakes from the ceiling to make a great mobile of sorts.

I think these could make great party decorations!

Whilst we made our snakes we listened to:

  • Big Pet Pig by Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke – which has a really fun video:
  • I have a Pet Snail by Bill Crosby
  • Pet Shark, My Pet Rock and Haven’t Got a Pet Yet by Recess Monkey

  • Other fun stuff you could enjoy alongside reading Thank You for Looking After Our Pets includes:

  • Make your own own Cuddles the Crocodile – here’s how we made one.
  • Play with colour – using Cassi‘s Colour Mixing Triangle or Jojoebi‘s rainbow kebabs as inspiration.
  • Creating some pop-up animals, inspired by Enchanted Learning – the final pages of Thank You for Looking After Our Pets could be made into pop-ups that would be very effective!

  • Have you got a funny story to tell after looking after someone’s pets? What pets would you like to have if you could choose any pet?

    Disclosure: I gratefully received my copy of Thank You for Looking After Our Pets from the author himself. This review, however, remains an honest and true reflection of what we thought of the book.

    UPDATE: To find out how you can win a signed copy of this book (open worldwide) click here (giveaway open from July 25th 2011)

    11 Responses

    1. Tasha

      This is a very timely post! We’re due to be cat sitting our neighbour’s cat (Tosca, renamed by Milo: Toscicat – all one word!) from Wednesday. This looks like a lovely book and the slither of snakes are great! ๐Ÿ™‚
      Tasha recently posted..{reading moment of the week}

      • Zoe

        It’s the seasons for pet sitting I think isn’t it natasha – people going away on holidays and all that. Do try to get hold of the book one way or the other. We really love it!


      This is a wonderful article. Probably, it has dealt with the captioned subject so nicely and beautifully.

      Love to read so lot.

      All the best.

      With best wishes,


      • Zoe

        If you’re nearby Isil we’d gladly pet sit for you – my kids love doing it!

    3. sophie

      when we go on holiday, the cat has her favourite destination and goes to my parents, with a nice garden, a nice house for the rainy days… and my parents enjoy it very much even if they would not say ! It’s a good thing to have parents who keep the cat when you’re away…
      but I not sure if they would if whe had a snake or even a hamster…even with a gorgious book in the hands… we are a cat only family :-))

      • Zoe

        To be honest Sophie, a cat is probably the only pet I’d enjoy having. I’m definitely a cat person rather than a dog person. But M has crazy ideas – she wants a zoo pretty much like in Tim Hopgood’s book!

    4. Even in Australia

      Love the male cat named Alice. For a long time my daughter’s favorite doll was a baby doll she named Zachary, whom she insisted was a girl.

      As for pets, our only foray so far has been a fish for H’s 6th birthday. I hope to avoid the four-legged variety.
      Even in Australia recently posted..Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Rewards

      • Zoe

        Well if the Beckhams can name their girl Harper Seven, I don’t see why your daughter’s doll couldn’t be Zachary ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds good to me!

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