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The Picture Book Buzz

Bless Our Pets - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I love the poetry anthologies compiled by Lee Bennet Hopkins, such as School People and Construction People, illustrated by Ellen Shi and A Bunch of Punctuation, illustrated by Serge Bloch. He had such an amazing ability to gather spectacular poets around fun and sometimes surprising topics. He loved writing poetry for kids and it shows in his amazing body of work and in this newest touching and playful ode to kids and their pets. It is gorgeous and lovingly written. It is a book to treasure.

Book cover - a dog sits with a bunny, puppy, turtle, and cat moving about its feet. While a parakeet hangs near the dog's shoulder.

Bless Our Pets

Editor/Author: Lee Bennett Hopkins

Illustrator: Lita Judge

Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company (2024)

Ages: 4-8



Poetry, pets, companionship, and love.


A celebration of creatures—and one of the last books edited by beloved children’s poet Lee Bennett Hopkins. In this adorable, often amusing collection, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Lois Lowry, and twelve other poets give thanks for those who bark, purr, chitter, and slither. The poems feature fourteen different animal companions, including a cat snoozing in her bed, a goldfish dancing in her bowl, and a gerbil nestling in an overall pocket. Illustrated in warm, tender detail by Lita Judge, Bless Our Pets captures the charms—and antics—of pets and the people who love them. From puppies to mice to turtles to ponies, this endearing anthology expresses children’s gratitude for creatures big and small. Bless Our Pets is the perfect tribute to the friends who bring so much joy into our everyday lives.

Poems by… • Ann Whitford Paul • Rebecca Kai Dotlich • Linda Trott Dickman • Eric Ode • Ralph Fletcher • Sarah Grace Tuttle • Kristine O’Connell George • Darren Sardelli • B.J. Lee • Charles Ghigna • Lois Lowry • Prince Redcloud • Joan Bransfield Graham • Lee Bennett Hopkins

Opening Lines:

Internal spread - on left a child's hands hold a teeny, little orange kitten. On the right the kitten plays with a ball of yarn.

Text © Ann Whitford Paul, 2024. Image © Lita Judge, 2024.


Small as an orange,

trembling in my hands,

your eyes lantern-bright

open wide with fright.

Poor kitty,

I must be a giant to you,

but I don’t growl,

or bite,

or fee-fi-fo-fum.

I’m a good giant who

will feed you,

snuggle you,

pet your fur.

All I want is you

to bless me

with your purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

— Ann Whitford Paul

What I LOVED about this book:

Everything! Lee Bennett Hopkins, a phenomenal poet, produced over 100 poetry anthologies for children. He had a knack for finding and encouraging poets and working with amazing illustrators. This beautiful book is one of the last anthologies of poetry for children that he worked on before he died in 2019.

Lita Judge captured the ethereal, devotional feeling of many of the fourteen poems from the initial halo-like lighting of the cover to the soft, pastel tones of the illustrations. She also evokes the joy and companionship of these pets with their kids. Her realistic watercolor and colored pencil illustrations are stunning and so full of love, affection, and the most adorable animals.

Internal spread - child hugginh and kissing a lop-eared rabbit in a field of flowers.

Text © Joan Bransfield Graham, 2024. Image © Lita Judge, 2024.

There's a wonderful symmetry to the book - beginning with a tiny adorable orange kitten and a puppy and ending with an old calico cat and Lee Bennett Hopkins' own emotionally tender poem, "My Old Dog". The final line of which applies equally to any who knew him or loves his poems and anthologies - "I know you’ll forever remember, too." There will be few dry eyes for readers who have been blessed to carry those precious pawprints on our hearts forever. The book also has a wonderful movement from dancing, playing, and galloping (on the best ride ever - across a field on a gorgeous starlit night) to watching, sleeping, and snuggling; making it a perfect, calming bedtime book.

There is even a little ecology wrapped into the "Prayer for a Parakeet" by Ralph Fletcher and "Box Turtle" by B.J. Lee and wonderful bits of whimsy - dancing with a goldfish and interacting with a friend's . . .

Internal spread - on left a boy recoils from a snake's head. On right, a child has a snake draped across its shoulders.

Text © Charles Ghigna, 2024. Image © Lita Judge, 2024.

Pet Snake?

Thank you for inviting me

to meet your brand-new pet.

I never thought a snake would be

a pet that you would get.

I watch her wrap around your arm.

You stroke her like a cat.

I didn’t know a snake would let

you do a thing like that.

I pray some day I’ll learn to love

a friendly snake or two.

But heaven knows I’m grateful that

— this one belongs to you!

A wonderful addition to home, school, and public library poetry or pet collections. Perfect for anyone who has a pet, has dreamed of having one, or who just loves animals. It is an enticing, loving, beautifully crafted ode to our pets and the connections, calmness, and caring they bring out in all of us.


  • do you have a pet? Or dream of having a pet (traditional, unusual, or imaginary)? Write a poem to your pet or draw an image of the two of you together.

  • thinking about your current or dream pet, what type of housing, supplies, and food would they need? Can you make a list poem (with or without rhyming) of things you would need to get for your pet?

  • play musical squares (or circles), where each time the music plays you have to move like an animal (cat, dog, penguin, crab, bird, etc.) Try playing hopscotch as different hopping animals (bunny, frog, or kangaroo).

  • pair this with Nasty Bugs by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Will Terry, Alfie by Thyra Heder, and Night Wishes by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Jen Corace.

If you missed my fun interview of the poets Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Charles Ghigna, Darren Sardelli, and B.J. Lee, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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