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Guinea Pigs Add Up

Walker & Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.
Ill. by Tracey Campbell Pearson

Guinea Pigs Add Up

Mr. Gilbert brings a guinea pig to school as a class pet, but it looks so lonely, he then brings another, and before long the class is getting an unexpected lesson in addition – and a very big cage.


Counting is part of the action-packed farce in this simple rhyming picture book about classroom pets. After a teacher announces that a new animal is coming, his young students imagine a giraffe, an elephant, and a snake. What they find, though, is a guinea pig, and the students enjoy petting and feeding him. Because he is lonely, they get him a playmate, who gives birth to three babies, and the numbers start growing: “Uh-oh—eight weeks later / five pets have fifteen more. / We count them—one to twenty; / help—guinea pigs galore!” The pen-and-ink, watercolor, and acrylic-gouache pictures show the classroom chaos, with the pets jumping off books and knocking off the teacher’s glasses. Finally, the creatures have to go, and affection-filled pictures show each kid cuddling a pet to take home. The arithmetic exercises—addition, subtraction, multiplication—are woven into the story, and there are surprises right up to the end, when the students fill the empty classroom cage with a rabbit, who turns out to be pregnant. – Booklist


A humorous look at one classroom's quest for the perfect pet. There is a lot of speculation when Mr. Gilbert announces that the class will soon have a new addition. The students love the guinea pig he surprises them with and incorporate him into their lessons, using tally marks to vote for a name, a chart to track the cavy chores and bombarding Mr. Gilbert with written requests for a companion for their lonely pet. But little did any of them know that their math lessons would soon become more complicated when the two guinea pigs become 20. The chaos that ensues leads the teacher to put them up for adoption and try a different pet instead...but should their new bunny's belly be growing like that? Cuyler's rhymes scan well, and their bouncy rhythms add to the humor of too many cavies. Pearson's line-and-color illustrations ably complement the tongue-in-cheek text. Her guinea pigs overflow the pages, adorably cute and curious, while the children's love for their cavies comes through loud and clear. This should be required reading for any teacher considering a class pet. – Kirkus Reviews

A cheerful classroom of primary-grade students is delighted when their teacher announces the imminent arrival of a class pet. Soon a guinea pig takes up residence, but the children sense its loneliness and beg for a guinea-pig playmate. She arrives, and two weeks later in the cage,/one pig gives birth to three. Very quickly there are 20 pets, and, as they threaten to overrun the classroom, Mr. Gilbert scrambles to find them homes with the children's families. The class wall charts illustrating the math involved in the furry family's growth now cover subtraction as the creatures are successfully farmed out. Mr. Gilbert's class-pet replacement a rabbit sweet as honey is happily welcomed, until he turns out to be an expectant she. A lively, rhyming text engagingly relates the story of these multiplying creatures, while the watercolor, pen-and-ink, and acrylic-gouache illustrations comically depict the mayhem resulting from overpopulation. Sweetly humorous touches abound in the illustrative details and extend the story line. This rhythmic tale of ever-popular pets will work well as a read-aloud or with newly independent readers. – School Library Journal


Can you guess the theme of this book from the title? One lonely class pet turns into 20 guinea pigs in a blink of an eye. This book is written in rhyme and will be a delightful read-aloud for any elementary classroom, with or without a class pet. Mr. Gilbert, the teacher, quickly gets overwhelmed with the prolific guinea pigs; he must find homes for all of them. But now the students are the lonely ones. When the new class pet, Mr. Whiskers, a bunny, gets a round belly, they find out he is a she! Lively, watercolor illustrations are full of classroom vigor and authentic depictions of classroom life. The child-like artwork skillfully captures the essence of both the students and the adorable guinea pigs. The engaging rhymes and the clever drawings are a perfect match. Recommended, Library Media Connection

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