Jelly Bean (Shelter Pet Squad #1)

Series: Shelter Pet Squad

by Cynthia Lord, Illustrated By Erin McGuire

Scholastic Press
September 2014

Ages 8 – 10 . Grades 3 – 5

Lexile measure: 560L

DRA: 34

Guided Reading: O



Suzannah's always wanted a pet of her own, but she lives in an apartment where there are absolutely no pets allowed. What she CAN do is volunteer at a local pet shelter. There, although she's the youngest, Suzannah quickly finds herself making friends with the kids and bonding with the animals. She makes toys and treats for the animals. She feeds the cats and plays with the puppies!

Then a girl just her age brings a guinea pig named Jelly Bean to the shelter. Suzannah promises that she'll find the little creature the perfect home. But what if no one wants an abandoned guinea pig?

Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord has created a fun and heartwarming chapter books series.
Cynthia Lord

Cynthia Lord is the award-winning author of Rules, a Newbery Honor Book and a Schneider Family Book Award winner, as well as the critically acclaimed Half a Chance, A Handful of Stars, and Because of the Rabbit. She made her picture-book debut with Hot Rod Hamster, which won several awards, including the Parents' Choice Award, and is the author of the Shelter Pet Squad chapter book series. She lives in Maine with her family. Visit her at
Erin McGuire

Erin McGuire is an illustrator currently working in Dallas, Texas. She's illustrated over fifty books across a range of middle grade and picture book projects, including Time of the Fireflies, The Real Boy, and many more.


  • Praise for RULES

    A Newbery Honor book, Schneider Family Book Award, ALA Notable

    "Catherine is an endearing narrator who tells her story with both humor and heartbreak. . . . A lovely, warm read, and a great discussion starter." -- SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

    Praise for TOUCH BLUE

    *"A thoughtful first-person narration . . . [Tess's] sense of humor keeps things light." -- THE HORN BOOK, starred review

    "Lord interlaces themes of loss, luck, superstition, family, and belonging . . . in this stirring novel." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

    "Realistic characters, humor, and a charming setting make this a great choice for collections of all sizes." -- KIRKUS REVIEW


--- - ! 'From Shelter Pet Squad #1: Jelly Bean

Dad calls my bedroom "Suzannah''s Pet Shop," because stuffed animals have taken over! They play hide-and-seek between the books on my shelf. They bounce with me when I jump on my bed. They snuggle against my neck and beg for treats.
It''s fun pretending with my stuffed animals, but I wish I could have a real pet. Something soft and furry that could sit in the window, waiting for the school bus to bring me home. My pet would bound across the living room to greet me. He''d jump into my lap before I even sat down.
If I couldn''t have a big pet, I''d pick something little and busy. He could live in a cage in my room. I''d build him a fun playground with paper-towel-tube tunnels to scurry through and ramps to climb up and slide down. My pet would ride in my bathrobe pocket when I made breakfast: cereal for me, carrots for him.
But the only pets I can have are stuffed animals. We live in an apartment, and the landlord says:
No dogs.
No cats.
No pets of any kind.
Only people can live in our apartment.
I don''t think that''s fair. A fish wouldn''t make a mess. A lizard isn''t noisy. A hamster doesn''t smell bad – well, not too bad.
"Maybe someday we''ll have our own house," Mom says. "And then we can make the rules. But right now, this apartment is a good home for us. Even if it''s not perfect."
Sometimes I put my stuffed-animal dog, Bentley, in the window to watch me come home from school. I carry Whiskers, my stuffed-animal mouse, in my bathrobe pocket while I make breakfast. Mom bought me a collar with a bell so that Oscar, my stuffed cat, doesn''t surprise Tweets, my toy bird.
"Pretending is fun, but it''s not the same as really doing something," I told Mom.
One day I was lining up my stuffed animals to watch TV with me. "Suzannah," Mom said, "I have an idea. I just read about a new program for kids to help at the animal shelter. I thought you might like to go."
"What''s an animal shelter?" I asked.
"The shelter is a place for stray animals and homeless pets. The people who work there take care of the animals and try to find homes for them," Mom explained. "The new program is called Shelter Pet Squad. Kids from second through sixth grade can sign up to come in on Saturday mornings. They will help make toys and do special things for the animals. I think you might like it, Suzannah. Want to give it a try?"
"It wouldn''t be like having my own pet," I said slowly.
"No, it wouldn''t be the same," Mom said. "But it still might be fun."
"What kinds of animals do they have at a shelter?" I asked.
"Mostly dogs and cats," Mom said. "But some other animals, too."
The shelter animals didn''t have a home – not yet. And I couldn''t have a real pet – not yet. But maybe we could borrow each other? Even if it was just for now and not "for keeps"?
Even if it wasn''t perfect.
"Okay," I said. "I''ll try it."'