The Great Pet Escape (Pets on the Loose)

The Great Pet Escape
by Victoria Jamieson

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Related Activities & Resources:

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Author home page:

Victoria Jamieson bio:

Behind Roller Girl: A Q&A with Victoria Jamieson:

Victoria Jamieson Illustration:

Activities & Resources:


Hamster care: How to take care of hamsters:

Hamster facts:

Harry Houdini:

How to care for a gerbil:

Guinea pigs care:


Mouse care guide:

Best pet snakes for children and beginners:

How to create a graphic novel:

A guide to using graphic novels with children and teens:

How to create a graphic novel with drawing software:

58 fun and easy yoga poses for kids:

How to learn to roller skate:

Four tips for beginners (roller skating) 1:46:

Napoleon Bonaparte:

Albert Einstein:

How to have a kids homemade pizza party:

MakerSpace Activities:

Use recycled materials and build a chain reaction machine.

Use LEGOS or similar building materials and make a stop-action video of one of the scenes from the book – perhaps the three pets riding down the hall, the food fight, or the snake stalking and eating the mice.

How to make 30 DIY paper mask designs:

How to make a slingshot:

How to build a catapult:

Discussion Questions:

Have you ever tried to build something using recycled materials or unrelated pieces – like Harry Houdini’s Escape-O-Matic? If so, describe it. What materials did you use?

Do you think Carina intentionally put her hairclip next to GW’s cage or was it an accident? Why or why not?

Would you like to have GW, Biter, or Barry for a class pet? Explain.

If you could choose a pet for home, what animal would you choose? Why

At the beginning of this story, only GW wanted to escape from the school. Why do you think he didn’t enjoy being a school pet as much as Biter and Barry?

What did you think of the author’s use of spiral-bound rap sheets to introduce GW, Barry, and Biter? Why do you think the author used them?

The fiend friends did a cheer to celebrate. Can you think of a chant or cheer for you and your friends?

Did you notice the snake stalking the mice? Did you keep track of the number of mice throughout the story? Why do you think the author added the snake’s antics?

Did Harriet seem to notice that the mice minions were disappearing? Why or why not? Why do you think she trusted the snake? Explain.

Harriet said she enjoyed creating mischief and mayhem at the school. If you had been there what would you have said to her to discourage her from ruining the cafeteria food?

Would you want to take part in a food fight?

During the food fight, do you think GW was aware of how much food they were throwing? Did you realize they had used all the food? Do you think GW planned this to happen? Explain.

GW and Biter drove cars and Barry rode in a skate to rush to the cafeteria to stop Harriet. Which one of those items would you have picked for the ride? Why?

At the end of the story were you surprised the three fiend friends wanted to stay and keep an eye on Harriet? Why or why not?

How did you feel about the author calling the kindergarten hall the worst cell block in the school? What are your kindergarten memories?

Do you like to read graphic novels? Why or why not? If this is the first graphic novel that you have read, what do think about this format? Will you read another one?

Would you have reacted to the story differently if the author had used a picture book or chapter book format? Why or why not?

At the end of the story, Carina gave GW a pencil in case he needed it for an invention. How did she know he was an inventor?

Did you notice that Biter was a girl? If so, when did you realize it? Why do you suppose she was the only one of the fiends to change her name?

If you wrote a sequel to this story, what adventures would Biter, GW and Bunny have?

The author began the book with GW thinking about how long he’d been held captive. She stretched the time out – three months, two weeks, and one day. Did this beginning “hook” you? Do you think Biter and Bunny realized how long they had been captive in the school? Why or why not?

The last chapter begins with – Nobody ever did figure out what happened that night – .  Do you think Mr. Martin suspected the school pets? Did he see the food fight or just the results? Would anyone have believed him if he had suggested the pets might have made the mess, since they were loose that night? Explain.

When Harriet saw the three fiends talking about the escape plan, she said no one was going to escape, because she liked to roam around at night and create mischief and mayhem. What problems do you think Harriet and her minions might have already caused on other nights in the school building? Explain.

Harriet wanted to cause mayhem in the cafeteria and make kids sick. In the end, did she achieve what she wanted to do? Explain.

Do you usually eat in the school cafeteria? If so, what is your favorite food? What is one food you refuse to eat?

Book Talk Teasers:

Show a closed cage with a stuffed gerbil, hamster, or rabbit inside. Then open the cage and take out the animal and ask for reactions. Discuss what could happen when school pets escape from their cages.

Read the Readers Theater.

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Book Reviews:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 03/01/16.  Jamieson, Victoria.  The Great Pet Escape; written and illus. by Victoria Jamieson. Holt, 2016 64p.   Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-62779-105-2 $15.99  Paper ed. ISBN 978-1-62779-106-9 $7.99 R Gr. 3-5

GW, Barry, and Boneyard Biter are all doing hard time in the joint—that joint being Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School, where they are class pets. One night GW manages to bust out of his cage, and he sets off to grab his buddies to make a getaway. Prison has made his pals soft, though: Barry the Bunny wants to finish the book he’s reading with the first-graders, and Biter—now calling herself Sunflower—has resolved her anger issues using helpful advice from kindergartners: “We talk a lot about feelings.” Still, GW manages to convince them to escape, but their plan is almost thwarted by the fourth-grade pets, Harriet the mouse and her mice minions. The pace and humor of this graphic novel hit the ground running (or scurrying) and never relent. The opening scenes of hamster GW, with his oversized ears and his adorable buck teeth, seen in shadow as he counts the days he’s been locked up in his “cell,” set the stage for a fuzzy, furry criminal romp through the school hallways. There’s chubby charm to each figure, all with rotund bellies and itsy bitsy arms, and the scene in which GW and Sunflower squeeze poor Barry into a roller skate (a clever nod to Jamieson’s previous outing, Roller Girl, BCCB 4/15) and send him off zooming down the hallway is not to be forgotten. The speech bubbles occasionally take on the square shapes that also serve as cues for GW’s narration, which could cause some confusion, but otherwise panel variation and full spreads are used to great effect. Readers might give a sideways glance or two at their own class pets after reading this one. KQG  (March 2016).  Used with the permission of Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books.

Horn Book

The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson.   Primary, Intermediate    Holt    64 pp.
2/16    978-1-62779-105-2    $15.99.  Paper ed.  978-1-62779-106-9    $7.99

Trapped for over three months in a “terrible prison, otherwise known as…a second-grade classroom,” feisty GW—the class hamster—finally gets a break. Right outside his cage rests a bobby pin; it’s the final part needed for his Hairy Houdini Escape-O-Matic invention. GW races to release the other two members of his Furry Fiends gang: Barry, a bunny with “a rap sheet as long as his ears,” and Biter, a guinea pig who’s “doing hard time” in kindergarten. Much to his dismay, GW discovers that Barry and Biter have “gone soft in prison” and aren’t exactly eager to abandon their comfy-cozy lives as class pets. He manages to convince them to make a break for it, only to have his dreams 
of freedom dashed when Harriet, the fourth-graders’ pet mouse, re-incarcerates the gang. More jailbreaks, 
a food fight, and other zany high jinks ensue in 
Jamieson’s laugh-out-loud graphic novel. Silly jokes fly fast and furious (“‘What is that SMELL?’ ‘I think we found the cafeteria’”), as does witty wordplay (GW to Biter: “Fine, be a pacifist. But right now I need you to PASS a FIST through this wall!”). Pen-and-ink panels digitally colored in a bright palette have a crisp and tidy feel—a neat contrast to the mischief and mayhem roiling Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School after hours. TANYA D. AUGER.  From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.   Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc.,

School Library Journal  

JAMIESON, Victoria. The Great Pet Escape. illus. by Victoria Jamieson. 64p. (Pets on the Loose!) Holt. Feb. 2016. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781627791069.

Gr 1-3 –George Washington, or “GW” for short, may look like a sweet, innocent classroom hamster, but little do the second graders at Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School know that he’s the inventor of the Sunflower Seed Slingshot and the Rodent Catapult Transportation Device, both of which are going to help him and his fellow inmates—Barry the rabbit (serving time in first grade) and Biter the world’s toughest guinea pig (doing a stint in kindergarten)—escape to freedom. Unfortunately, when GW finally liberates his rodent pals, a gang of surly mice threaten their plans. Jamieson, author and illustrator of Roller Girl (Dial, 2015), here presents a giggle-worthy tale for younger readers and those just venturing into graphic novels. Easy-to-follow panels, complemented by several spreads, explode off the page with her bright and cheery palette. Visual humor abounds, from GW’s gallant attempts at sword fighting with the mouse leader (using a broken piece of uncooked spaghetti) to Biter’s confession that, while in kindergarten, she’s found a way to channel her anger issues through meditation. VERDICT Hand this charmingly goofy graphic novel to chapter book readers who enjoy Dav Pilkey’s works, Cyndi Marko’s “Kung Pow Chicken” series (Scholastic), and Geoffrey Hayes’s “Benny and Penny” books (TOON.)–Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal.  Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal,  Copyright 2016.