I LOVE GUINEA PIGS
by Dick King-Smith illustrated by Anita Jeram - Candlewick Press 2001
ages baby to 12 years
Savannah and William are pet owners – 3 guinea pigs (all girls) have joined their family. As you can see in the happy snap, there was a little trepidation for a moment or two, but they are now heartily and enthusiastically loved.
We sent I Love Guinea Pigs to them because it was a favourite throughout our children’s guinea-pig keeping years.
Written by Dick King-Smith (Babe, The Water Horse, the Sophie series), it’s part personal reminiscing, part how-to, part general information, and completely captivating for young guinea-pig owners or aspiring owners.
There’s an inviting conversational style in this book that makes it feel a little like good friends talking about a shared fascination. Interesting small moments of history are blended with Dick King-Smith’s personal history and there are lots of helpful ideas for caring and feeding guinea pigs too.
And there's great fondness for guinea-pigs in the illustrations – they’re full of life and give a real sense of how much personality a guinea-pig can have.
Guinea-pigs are a great gateway pet – they still need a reasonable amount of care and effort, but are not costly, they’re fairly easy to farm out to friends and neighbours while you’re on holiday and they're full of personal interaction.
This book is a great lead in to actual ownership. It’s true that in most cases it will just amplify the begging, but it also does a good job of talking about the work involved in owning a ‘piggy-looking cavy’.
And you’ll probably be so entranced by the pictures and the stories that you’ll start to want a guinea-pig too.
There’s a lovely tender section where Dick King-Smith tells about two of his favourite guinea-pigs who are both buried under an apple tree in his yard – the soft acknowledgement of grief and the philosophical better-to-have-loved approach is perfect for young children.
It’s widely accepted that pet ownership does all sorts of marvellous thing for kids – increasing responsibility and empathy, decreasing loneliness and anxiety, and even increasing reading ability – but there’s also a lot to be said for the sheer joy of it all, and this book is all about the joy. (For one view on the benefits on pet owning for children, have a look at this article from The New York Times)
Guinea-pig owning is a generational thing in our family. As a child, I once had fifty at one time. They lived under an old tank stand and were almost self-sufficient. We’ve loved many guinea-pigs over the years and I’d have to agree that:
"…it’s the way they look that I’ve always liked. They’re so chunky and chubby and cuddly, with their blunt heads and sturdy bodies and short legs."
This is an endearing book for a child who is dreaming of a pet — and we also sent I Completely Know about Guinea-Pigs – a Charlie and Lola book – because Savannah is also mad for Charlie and Lola.
You can buy I Love Guinea Pigs via Book Depository