TV Shows: Littlest Pet Shop: Readalikes for Kids
Wikipedia’s Description: “Littlest Pet Shop is a Canadian–American children’s animated television series. Based on the Littlest Pet Shop and Blythe toys owned by Hasbro, the show follows a Blythe Baxter, a teenage girl who, after moving into an apartment in a metropolitan area, gains the ability to communicate with animals. Located below her apartment is the eponymous pet store where Blythe works and talks to a group of pets who regularly reside at a day care in the shop. Worried that a corrupt rival business will drive their shop out of business, the pets depend on Blythe to drive business into the store with her pet fashion designs.”
Main appeal: Animals, Adventure, Humor
Amazon’s Description: “You can learn a lot about life by observing another species. That’s what Humphrey was told when he was first brought to Room 26. And boy, is it true! In addition to having FUN-FUN-FUN in class, each weekend this amazing hamster gets to sleep over with a different student, like Lower-Your-Voice-A.J. and Speak-Up-Sayeh. Soon Humphrey learns to read, write, and even shoot rubber bands (only in self-defense, of course). With lots of friends to help, adventures to enjoy, and a cage with a lock-that-doesn’t- lock, Humphrey’s life is almost perfect. If only the teacher, Mrs. Brisbane, wasn’t out to get him!”
Crossover Appeal: This series follows Humphrey the hamster, an elementary school’s class pet, as he explores the world around him and since the narrative is told from Humphrey’s perspective, readers who like the ‘Dr. Dolittle’ aspect of Littlest Pet Shop — with its insight into the animal mind — will be pleased. For younger/lower level readers, the Humphrey’s Tiny Tales spin-off series is a more accessible set of chapter books. Grades 2+.
Amazon’s Description: “It’s Spring Break in Santa Vista, and everyone has big plans…everyone except for Amy, that is! As her best friends head out of town on exciting adventures, Amy resigns herself to helping out at her mom’s vet clinic. At least she’ll be around cute animals! But when Santa Vista’s cold and elusive millionaire, Marge Sullivan, brings her puppy Rufus for a check-up, Amy encounters an unexpected mystery. After her friends return home, the girls get to the bottom of what happened to Rufus—and discover a way to help other lost and lonely animals in their town.”
Crossover Appeal: Like Littlest Pet Shop, these plots are episodic (with a new mystery for every book) and with the kind of low-stakes ‘danger’ accompanying each mystery that keeps readers in suspense without frightening them. The series is heavily illustrated, and features a variety of different animals throughout. Grades 1+.
Amazon’s Description: “Chi is a michievous newborn kitten who, while on a leisurely stroll with her family, finds herself lost. Seperated from the warmth and protection of her mother, feels distraught. Overcome with loneliness she breaks into tears in a large urban park meadow., when she is suddenly rescued by a young boy named Yohei and his mother. The kitty is then quickly and quietly whisked away into the warm and inviting Yamada family apartment…where pets are strictly not permitted.”
Crossover Appeal: Here again, we have the internal monologue of an animal driving the plot as well as a healthy dose of humorous misadventures. Since these stories are told in graphic novel format, struggling or reluctant readers may especially gravitate to the series. Grades 1+.
Amazon’s Description: “It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.”
Crossover Appeal: Absurd humor and wild adventure combined with a friendship between human and pet make this a good readalike for older Littlest Pet Shop fans. Grades 3+.
Amazon’s Description: “In Greenwich Village an orphaned black cat lives happily with her master, a sea captain. Still, the gentle Jenny Linsky would like nothing more than to join the local Cat Club, whose members include Madame Butterfly, an elegant Persian, the high-stepping Macaroni, and stately, plump Mr. President. But can she overcome her fears and prove that she, too, has a special gift? Join Jenny and her friends, including fearless Pickles the Fire Cat, on their spirited downtown adventures.”
Crossover Appeal: The cats in this series are numerous in kind and in their unique personalities, just like the furry cast of Littlest Pet Shop. Though Cat Club stories have their dated moments, their whimsy and silliness endures them to modern readers, and the New York Review‘s reprints will make these older books more easily found in modern, public library collections. Cat Club books are also a good way to introduce the short story genre to younger children. Grades K+.