Leave it to PET!

March 22, 2009

This is one of the first books in the VizKids line, which are, as you might guess, manga aimed at youngsters.  It’s a good idea, because it gets kids reading, they’re thick, so there’s a sense of accomplishment when you finish, and you don’t have to wonder if the content is inappropriate (though ratings sort of eliminate that worry for the most part, I think).  They are definitely series written to appeal to children, though.  I picked this one up hoping that there would be some facts about recycling in it, but… there’s actually surprisingly little of that, other than the initial bonus of the kid recycling a plastic bottle and getting a little robot in return.

Basically, the book is full of short chapters about Noboru and his little robot, PET, who starts following him around after he is made out of the bottle Noboru recycles.  Something in the first chapter reminded me vaguely of Doraemon (maybe it was the Nobita-Noboru names, or the futuristic robot, or the fact that he’s supposed to protect and help Noboru, I don’t know).  PET isn’t very helpful though, and usually winds up making small, comedic errors whenever he’s called upon or appears.  Sometimes Noboru calls him to help, sometimes PET shows up uninvited, and sometimes the stories are about the eccentric life PET leads and Noboru running across it.  The chapters are a few pages long, and are usually just a series of gags where nothing is really gained in the end.  The humor is fine, but I think a little kid will get a lot more out of it than I did.

There are some tidbits about recycling, but mostly it’s just new characters that enter the series based on different types of recycling.  There’s a little female robot who’s made out of a recycled can, a futuristic robot made out of a different type of plastic than PET, and a couple different robots based on metals that aren’t aluminum.  I mean, the fact that Noboru recycles is emphasized again and again, and there’s some additional material in the back about recycling, and the series is very eco-friendly in general, but it’s not really about recycling like I thought it would be.

Amusingly, there are several bonus pages in the back that look like they came straight out of Highlights magazine.  There are also a handful of arts and crafts tips throughout the chapters, though always noted that they need to be done with adult supervision (since most of them involve doing something with the plastic bottle).

It’s a pretty fun book, and I have to admit I liked the cartoony illustrations.  I don’t know that regular readers of this site will get much out of it, but I do think it’s good for kids.

5 Responses to “Leave it to PET!”

  1. […] 02 (Slightly Biased Manga) Margaret Viera on vol. 16 of The Law of Ueki (Active Anime) Connie on Leave it to PET! (Slightly Biased Manga) Tangognat on vol. 1 of Maid-Sama (Tangognat) Matthew J. Brady on vol. 15 of […]

  2. Diana Says:

    I just had to say “you’re right”. My students in grades 5 and up thought it was boring but my son (who is in grade 2) thinks it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now I just need help finding instructions on how to make Pet’s head so we can make our own version of Pet for him to make his own adventures. Wish me luck!

  3. Connie Says:

    Great! I’m never quite sure what manga are good for young readers, and I always wonder if some of the kid-oriented stories I’ve read might be boring to the target audience.

    Making Pet is a really cute craft idea! Pet’s head is tricky, I wondered about that myself when I was reading it. The only plastic thing that I can think of that comes close would be the top of another goofy-shaped bottle, like the ones you sometimes see fruit juice in.

  4. Laura Says:

    I used this with 4th graders and it’s right up their alley. They think it’s comical and like the novelty of reading “backwards”. Some gags are lost on them for cultural reasons, but most of them are funny anyways.

  5. Connie Says:

    The culture gap wouldn’t have occurred to me, but it’s cool that they liked reading it backwards. I remember thinking it was pretty novel myself, but I was 16 when I saw it the first time. ^_^; Thanks for the input too, I have a hard time figuring out when series are and aren’t appropriate for children since I don’t really have any young kids in my life right now.

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