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Cuevas, Michelle The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole; written and illus. by Michelle Cuevas. Dial, 2017 [208p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-399-53913-8 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-399-53915-2 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 3-6

Other kids get followed home by dogs or cats, but eleven-year-old Stella Rodriguez gets followed home from a trip to NASA by a black hole, which she then names Larry (short for singularity). Having a pet black hole is pretty convenient when Stella wants to get rid of things like brussels sprouts at dinner and her little brother Cosmo’s annoying talking toy, and it’s good for getting rid of other things, too—reminders of her father that just hurt too much to look at since his death. Cuevas makes full use of the black hole as a metaphor for loss in deft prose that is by turns hilarious and poetic in this story set in the 1970s. When Stella and Cosmo journey into its infinite space to retrieve their new puppy (who foolishly chased a thrown toy into the black hole), they encounter the items Larry devoured in absurd and poignantly distorted forms: from the hamster Stinky Stu, grown to a 400-pound (and even stinkier) behemoth, to the now-life-size 3-D model of the imaginary planet Stellarium that Stella and her father built together. Scribbly art supplements Stella’s chatty narration—periodically addressed to her dad—with quirky, precise visualizations of the astronomical concepts she explains and her musings on the strange things people do (like keep pet rocks, which Stella insists is much weirder than having a pet black hole). Stella and Cosmo’s journey will stay with readers long after they turn the final pages, and they’ll look to the night sky with new perspective, seeing in it, as Stella does, “a patchwork of time.” [End Page 11]



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