The Short: This book is nominated for a Cybils. I love this book so I can definitely see why. It is unlike most any other story I’ve read and I thought at this point I really wouldn’t be able to find a picture book story that surprised me this much. The part that has really surprised me is how much my son loves this book. Tonight my two year old little boy was keeping me company as I was preparing dinner. I was trimming green beans and he was playing with the trimmings. Then, out of the blue he says to me, “I’m working in my topiary garden.” He was just as happy as he could be about it. I was shocked. I called my husband and made him say it again into the phone. My son was talking about a topiary garden and it is because of this book.
We definitely recommend this book, but it is a very unusual book. As long as you keep that in mind, I think most everyone who reads it will love it.
The Long: “Ruby Small was a very normal little girl.” Her parents, however, are not. Her father runs a topiary gardening business and her mother runs a tiara business. (Nice flexible hours, allows them to work from home, enables them to be creative as well as analytical — sounds good to me.) Ruby is horribly embarrassed of them and some of the children do make fun of her because of her parents. Ruby consoles herself with her three dolls all named Jennifer.
Her parents ask her where she wants to go on vacation and she replies, “No way!” in response to an option of going to China to see a topiary herb garden. Her parents think she said Norway and agree that’s where they should all go. On the way to Norway, Ruby asks her parents if she can get a pet when she gets back. She’d like a dog. Her parents agree, but are definitely baffled as to why she would want a dog. When they reach Norway, they go out to see the glaciers. One of the glaciers is calving and part of the broken-off ice becomes fond of Ruby and starts to follow her around. Her parents get an ice chest and they bring the small glacier (now named Cecil) back home with them. Ruby isn’t all that fond of the glacier and ignores it. However, one day at school it starts to rain and one of the Jennifers is left on the playground in a sudden dash to get inside from the rain. Ruby is devastated as her doll is washed away. All seems lost for the dropped Jennifer until Cecil comes to its rescue. Cecil rescues the doll and brings it to Ruby. Ruby is thrilled. She takes care of Cecil and begins to warm up to it. The story ends with Ruby, the three Jennifers, Cecil, and a friend from school going back to her house where instead of being thoroughly embarrassed by her parents she appreciates them.
It is a lovely story — but it took me a little bit to wrap my brain around the fact that Cecil is a glacier and a pet. My son had no problems with it at all, but I fear if we ever do come face to face with a real glacier and a small bit doesn’t follow him around, he’s going to be sorely disappointed.
I love the artwork. It definitely contributes to the unusual-ness of the story. I can’t place the genre or artist, but it is very distinct. Do you know? Obviously, the vocabulary in this book is excellent and effectively used considering my two year old knows what a topiary garden is. Thank you, Cecil The Pet Glacier.
This book definitely has me wondering how it will shape my son’s view of the world. I can only guess how he’s processing this information. I didn’t need to edit or change it when reading this to my son. I think it is appropriate for all ages.
If you’re ready to sit down with your kiddo and read an entirely different story, I think you’ll really like this one. It is certainly one of the most memorable picture books I think I’ll ever read.
Where Obtained: Library.
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