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Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  240 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Published for the 150th anniversary of her birth, this story stars a young Beatrix Potter, creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and many other classic children’s books.
Hopkinson takes readers back to Victorian England and the home of budding young artist and animal lover Beatrix Potter. When Beatrix brings home her neighbor’s pet guinea pig so that she can practice paint
ebook, 44 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by Schwartz & Wade
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3.58  · 
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 ·  240 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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A book any Beatrix Potter fans will want to read and have on their shelves.
Susan Morris
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful story of young Beatrix Potter and the animals she loved to collect and draw. Definitely want to share this with students. (Library)
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Nov 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-recommended
Hopkinson, Deborah Beatrix Potter & the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig, illustrated by Charlotte Voake. PICTURE BOOK. Schwartz & Wade (Random House), 2016. $17.99. Content: PG.

Even as a child, Beatrix Potter adored animals and had a menagerie full of pets -- all of whom she loved to paint pictures of and write about. Unfortunately, she wasn't always successful at keeping her beloveds -- or her friends' beloveds -- alive. In this book, snippets from her journals detail a few of
Carrie Charley Brown
Growing up with Beatrix Potter books, it was interesting to find out more about the inspiration behind the characters in her books. Deborah Hopkinson successfully creates a relatable story with the use of Beatrix's forgetfulness and love of animals. Charlotte Voake's watercolor illustrations provided an innocent, youthful feel. Since the language in Beatrix's journal entries contrasted with the more light-hearted tone running through the story line, the story flow was interrupted somewhat near t ...more
Ms. Yingling
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it
We were certainly fans of Beatrix Potter books in our house, and since 2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the author's birth, it was fun to see a copy of this picture book about an event in her life. Since Potter was a devoted animal lover as well as an artist, she had quite the menagerie growing up, and she did her drawings based on her observations of the animals. When she wanted to draw a guinea pig, she borrowed one from a neighbor, but it ended up eating paste and string in her work area a ...more
Cindy Dobrez
A fun tribute to Bea Potter in time for the 150th Anniversary of her birthday this summer. The book design mimics her familiar animal tales, although in a much larger trim size. I appreciate the author's note explaining the facts that she changed for the sake of the story (Bea was 26, not a young girl when she borrowed the guinea pig), but given that and the addition of invented conversation and "made-up bits," can this really be catalogued as nonfiction?

I like Hopkinson's decision to write the
A.E. Fuhrman
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
With illustrations (by Charlotte Voake) reminiscent of Potter's own beloved style, this is a delightfully horrifying and funny retelling of a true event from the acclaimed author's life. Granted, Deborah Hopkinson took some liberties (like the fact that Beatrix was an adult and not a child as depicted when this tragic event happened--which makes it all the more alarming, but that's a rabbit trail--pun intended), but the tale she's woven is so enthralling that I guess we'll forgive her. A must re ...more
Justin Dolezal
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book from Deborah Hopkinson, a renown historical fiction writer is about Beatrix Potter and how she was a young girl who wanted to borrow her neighbors guinea pig to paint it, but it dies on her watch and she tries her best to cover it up. A good book about what to do and don't do when something bad happens when borrowing something that isn't yours. I thought it was an okay book, but it really wasn't all that interesting to me personally.
This book is a little bit depressing. It holds to the style of Beatrix Potter nicely, but it reveals the darker side of her study of animals, particularly the rather poor care that was given to the animals that she studied. At the end, it seems to imply that the value of her work makes up for the fact that she essentially killed her neighbor's guinea pig through neglect. More than anything, where were her parents in all this? If your child brings animals into your home, like them or not, they're ...more
Kris Dersch
This was classified as biography at my library...I don't know if I'd do full on biography or based on a true story because a LOT of liberties were taken, but it walks that line. Visually playful, full of animals, and a little bit weird, just like Beatrix Potter. I think it's a tribute she'd be proud of. Great back matter, I loved learning about her journals.
Whimsical and quirky tale a put potter and the factionalized story of her involvement in the accidental death of her neighbor's guinea pig which she borrowed to draw. Voake's watercolors are charming.
Wilde Sky
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young child borrows a guinea pig, but things don't end well.

This was an interesting story (especially as the tale is based on what happened to a famous author) with good illustrations.

Reading time approximately thirty minutes.
Erin Hendrian
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
The style of the story as a written letter (modeled after Beatrix Potter's own) was cute, and the actual journal entries from Beatrix were a little funny (in a morbid sort of way), but the "story" as a whole was discombobulated, a little gruesome, and didn't have a clear ending. Meh.
Sabrina Winsor
The illustrations in this book are so pretty. I feel like this book really relates to students. It shows that you can make mistakes but it doesn't mean you are a mess up.
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
In this delightful romp, the early life of Beatrix Potter, author and illustrator of the beloved The Tale of Peter Rabbit, comes to life through beautiful watercolor illustrations and very Potter-esque prose in Beatrix Potter & the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig. We are introduced to Beatrix Potter and her menagerie of pets when she is a young girl whose writing and drawing skills are blossoming. When she asks her next-door neighbor to borrow a guinea pig for a model, Miss Paget i ...more
Heidi Burkhart
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very sweet, tiny story about Beatrix Potter. This one is based on a true story in which she borrowed a guinea pig from a neighbor to use as an artist's model.
Wendy Greenley
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebookfic
I enjoyed the matter-of-fact way young Beatrix's life in late 1800's London is portrayed. The reader meets a young girl walking rabbits on a leash and bringing a huge menagerie of wild animals into the house with apparently no adult intervention or repercussions. Her permissive upbringing in a well-to-do home is, from what I know, an accurate reflection of her life. I recently finished Leonard Marcus' biography of Margaret Wise Brown that refers to times when Margaret skinned dead animals, shoc ...more
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
First reviewed on Literaritea

What It Is: Part historical fiction and part picture book biography about Beatrix Potter

What It’s About: Beatrix Potter kept copious journals as a child, writing them in a secret code. She also loved to draw and paint. Hopkinson takes stories and anecdotes from the journals to recreate a story based on the truth. She changes some facts (such as Potter’s age) to make the story more engaging. Essentially, Potter (a young child in Hopkinson’s version) borrows a guinea p
Erik This Kid Reviews Books
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Synopsis- Beatrix Potter loved animals, she had many pets over the years, and she loved to train them to walk on leashes (especially her rabbits!) and she loved to paint and sketch them even more! One day, Beatrix wanted to paint a guinea pig, which she did not have, so she went next door to her neighbor (who had lots) to borrow one. She chooses Queen Elizabeth, descended from guinea pig royalty. While painting Queen Elizabeth, Beatrix was called to eat at a fancy dinner party with the family’s ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
Published to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth, this picture book tells the true story of an event in Potter’s childhood. Beatrix loved animals from a very young age. In fact, she and her brother had quite a collection of animals over the years from a family of snails to rabbits trained to walk on a leash. Beatrix also loved to draw and paint her animals. One day, she wanted to paint a guinea pig so she borrowed one from a neighbor. The guinea was a magnificent specimen named Que ...more
K. McDevitt
May 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a quirky story about the girl who would grow up to write and illustrate the beloved children's classic, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Beatrix Potter adored animals, but many of them experienced mishaps, and didn't live for long with her in her London home. She took notes about the creatures as well as trying her hand at drawing them. When she borrowed a pet guinea pig from a neighbor for sketching purposes, she promises to take very good care of Queen Elizabeth. But when she leaves her alone ...more
Feb 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016reviews
First sentence: My dear reader, this is a story about a girl named Beatrix Potter and what happened when she borrowed her neighbor's guinea pig.

Premise/plot: As an adult, Beatrix Potter borrowed a guinea pig from one of her neighbors. She wanted, of course, to draw it. Unfortunately, it died while in her care. In this picture book, Beatrix Potter is a child when she borrows it. Instead of returning a live guinea pig, she "returns" a sketch, a drawing of it to the neighbor. The book concludes wi
Wuxuan Ma
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: el-ed-340
This is a Biography.
This book tells a story about Beatrix Potter, who loves animals but a lot of her animals dies because she didn't know how to take care of them. Later she borrowed a guinea pig from a neighbor but this guinea pig passed away overnight. Later, Beatrix created many beloved children's picture books. It is almost like finding Winnie but the content of the story is not sweet nor cute because it involves several deaths of animals.
Miz Lizzie
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beatrix Potter is one of my personal heroes, so of course I had to read the latest "biography" of her. This picture book biography is the perfect example of taking a single incident from someone's life to tell a story that gives an introduction to that person's life and personality. Written and illustrated in a style similar to Beatrix Potter's own picture-letters, which were the way she wrote her first stories, the approach gives a feel for Beatrix's own literary style as well as her life and p ...more
Read  Ribbet
In a year that already recognized the story behind Winnie the Pooh Finding Winnie, Deborah Hopkinson peels back the story behind Beatrix Potter, In her clever narrative style that captures the humor of famous childhoods, Hopkinson borrows actual journal entries from Potter's diaries to tell the story of her love of animals. We also see the frequent calamities endured by her collections of pet especially when she borrows a guinea pig. Students will love the story, learn more about the author, and ...more
Becky B
A fictionalized account based on a true story about a childhood incident when Beatrix Potter borrowed a neighbor's guinea pig to use as a model and it ate itself through her art supplies to an early death. Beatrix has to face the awkward task of apologizing to the neighbor about the incident.

Definitely read the author's notes on this one to find out what is factual and what is fiction. The book is not as morose as it could potentially be (the cause of death is somewhat funny...the guinea pig at
I had no idea that Beatrix Potter's habits of loving her pets so, um, dearly had led to their frequent deaths! Yikes. She had a darker side it seems (haha). But what do you expect when you try to keep wild things in the city? It's not going to work out! Part of me thinks it's quite cruel that they died for her art and for her just wanting to love them, and it seems quite selfish and naive on her part, but then I contrast it with the mores of the time and it seems rather in step with it all.

I do
Ruth Anne
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, picture-books
A fictionalized account of Beatrix Potter as a young girl and her love for pets and her unfortunate outcomes with them. After some background information, the story focuses on Beatrix borrowing a guinea pig, named Queen Elizabeth, as a model for her to draw. That does not end well for the guinea pig. Voake's watercolor and pen illustrations are a beautiful setting for the story. There is an author's note with additional information. This would be a nice gift for a little girl or anyone who loves ...more
A picture book homage to Beatrix Potter in honor of the 150th anniversary of her birth. Hopkinson, who is known for her historical fiction, bases this book loosely on a real incident in Beatrix Potter’s life. The main change is that of Potter’s age; Potter was an adult (twenty-six) instead of a child when she borrowed her neighbor’s guinea pig. Although the story, in text and tone, has an old-fashioned charm that is reminiscent of Potter’s writing style, sensitive animal lovers will be horrified ...more
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I write picture books, nonfiction, and middle grade fiction. I love history and visiting schools to talk to young readers (Pre-K - 8 and sometimes high schools).


Recent awards for picture books include ORDINARY, EXTRAORDINARY JANE being named a 2019 Oregon Book Award finalist. I received the Jane Adda