• Charles Dunn

Cecil the Pet Glacier, by Matthea Harvey [an offbeat review]


Cecil the Pet Glacier might be described as avant-garde, somber, borderline surreal. If you use those adjectives on a regular basis, which I don't. It's bizarre. The kind of bizarre I can get behind though. Not $11M for a painting of a soup can bizarre, which makes me grind my teeth to powder. Ruby comes from an unusual family, with parents who are passionate about both topiary and tiaras. Things get stranger from there, and Ruby feels like the odd man out whenever she walks through the door. Odd girl. Oddity. During a snowmobile tour of the Norwegian glaciers, because why not?, she's followed home by an attention-starved chunk of ice. Ruby's parents find this perfectly natural and adorable. Ruby is mortified, however, to be followed around by solid state water, and wants nothing to do with "Cecil". The little chip off the ol' block ends up risking life(?) and limb(?) to rescue Ruby's creepy doll during a rainstorm though, and Ruby learns the value of a pet's unconditional love. The author doesn't address whether frozen peas, sleet, or popsicles have a greater capacity for affection, but maybe she's saving it for the sequel.


Even if you're one of those people who read the thesaurus for fun, a preternatural diversion by any metric, 'eccentric' isn't a broad enough word to describe this book. It's like a Wes Anderson movie written by Edward Gorey for his socially-awkward niece while tripping balls on peyote. You can see it now, can't you? I should have led with that. Whether your child enjoys Scandinavian ice fields, recreational topiary, zoomorphism, or anything in between, this one will nourish your junior hipster's sense of the avant-garde, whatever the hell that means.