The Surprise

by Nick Laird and Zadie Smith, illustrated by Magenta Fox, is a sweet story from married writers Smith and Laird. The titular Surprise is a guinea pig dressed in a judo uniform, given as a birthday present to a child, Kit. But, the Surprise quickly discovers that she’s very different from the household’s other pets: Bob, a pug dog, Dora, a cat, and Paul, a bird. Because of this, they’re immediately suspicious of her. Trying to fit in, the Surprise makes a failed attempt to fly and lands up in the apartment next door, where she spends a wonderful afternoon with the delightfully eccentric neighbor and realizes it’s ok to be different. A reunion with Kit and a happy ending for all the pets provides a sweet resolution.