Millie and Cupcake by Mildred Potash

  I don’t often review children’s books, but this one appealed to me because I’m an animal lover.

It’s the story of Millie, a shy young girl who likes to spend time in her room with her imaginary friends. She loves animals but her parents won’t let her have a pet yet, for fear she’s too young to take care of it.

One day, the family (Mom, Dad, Millie and 12-year-old brother George) moves to New York City. As they are settling in, Millie hears a noise in her closet. It’s a small black and white rat.  Instead of being frightened, she bends down to pet the rat, who is scared and hurries to the back of the closet.

Each day, Millie leaves cheese for the rat, until one day it takes the cheese out of her hand. She’s convinced she’s found the perfect pet and sets about making a bed out of Mom’s empty shoebox. She names her newfound friend Cupcake.

She shares the story of  Cupcake at Show & Tell in school and does very well because her shyness disappears as she lovingly discusses her pet. The teacher calls to tell Millie’s mom and dad how well she did. When her parents tell her this, Millie is convinced she’ll be asked to give up her beloved Cupcake. Instead, they congratulate her on her responsible attitude.

Just when all is well, Cupcake disappears, devastating Millie. But this is a children’s story and there is a happy – though surprising – ending. The book is short and sweet and the illustrations are colorful and truly add immeasurably to the development of the characters.

There are some important messages in the book about moving to a new location, the brother/sister relationship, and pet owner responsibility. It also teaches a love for all creatures, even those not conventionally considered “acceptable.” The book is great for children

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