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The Legend of Jet the Gerbil: Could Be the Greatest Gerbil Story Ever Told

ISBN: 9781634894180
Binding: Hardcover
Author: Michael Keller
Illustrator: Patrizia Donaera
Pages: 40
Trim: 10 x 10 inches
Published: 5/3/2021

The Legend of Jet the Gerbil recently won two Benjamin Franklin Awards, a Gold for Best New Voice Children's/Young Adult, and Silver for Best New Children's Book (4-7). Jet the Gerbil also just received two Midwest Book Award silvers for Best Children's Picture Book and Best Illustration. Jet the Gerbil previously won a Moonbeam Children's Book Award bronze medal in the Animals/Pets Fiction category.

The Legend of Jet the Gerbil is the true story of an amazing pet gerbil and his human, a young boy named Michael. Michael and Jet are best friends and find lots of fun ways to play together. Jet is big, strong, fast, and brave. He can do remarkable things like run mazes, spin around in his wheel upside down, and chew through giant cardboard tubes in minutes. Jet even teaches Michael's cat a lesson or two.

One day, when Michael and his dad are cleaning Jet's tank, something goes terribly wrong, setting Michael and his dad on a fast-paced adventure to find and rescue Jet. Michael knows Jet is strong and brave, but can he survive until rescued?

The Legend of Jet the Gerbil showcases love, friendship, hope, resilience, and perseverance through beautiful watercolor illustrations and an engaging story. Jet's incredible survival could make this the greatest gerbil story ever told!


Michael Keller is a senior executive and first-time children's book author living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was born in New York City and grew up in New Jersey, where Jet's incredible adventure unfolded. Michael told Jet's story for decades before publishing The Legend of Jet the Gerbil. He lives with his wife, Gina. He has three kids, Ava, Davis, and Alden; two stepdaughters, Hanna and Raina; two rescue dogs, Ziggy and Cooper; and a new gerbil, Gunny.

Patrizia Donaera is an illustrator who specializes in children's publishing and natural history illustration. She has illustrated more than forty books in over thirty years in the industry. Her favorite subject for illustration is the animal realm; she attempts to grasp the magic and expressiveness of animals without altering their natural features. Thus she accomplished remarkable mastery in natural history and educational publishing, forming in time a unique and personal style appealing to the taste of adults and children alike. Her illustrations have been recognized internationally, in particular her animal and botanical artwork for children's books. She now lives in Savona, a city overlooking the Ligurian Sea, together with her daughter, Beatrice Juliette, and two cats, Peggy and Stanley.


"A moving true story about the bond between children and their pets. The Legend of Jet the Gerbil brims with heart, hope, and unexpected twists and turns that will delight parents and kids alike." - Elizabeth Foy Larsen, coauthor of theUNBORED series of family activity books 

"The Legend of Jet the Gerbil's subtitle is hilarious ('Could Be the Greatest Gerbil Story Ever Told') and portends an exceptional read as young picture book animal enthusiasts absorb the story of Jet, who is more than just another in the many pet gerbils Michael has enjoyed in his young lifetime.

Jet 'Did amazing things and had unbelievable adventures' and this story reviews his extraordinary life, spiced by lovely, detailed drawings by Patrizia Donaera.

As Michael reviews all the ways Jet is bigger, stronger, faster and braver, and even challenges invading cats, readers will delight in the tale of a spunky little gerbil who defies gravity and the odds to stand out from the gerbil crowd. 

Owner Michael thinks Jet can do anything...but can he confront an appliance monster, and death?

This uplifting, fun celebration of a very special gerbil is truly delightful. Kids who have an affinity for pets or gerbils will find Michael's celebration of his beloved pet is moving and appealing, concluding in a section of natural history facts about gerbils. 

Parents and teachers will find the story lends to read aloud, while kids ages 3-8 with good basic reading skills will want to pursue Jet's adventures for themselves. It's an all-around positive story of a boy and his pet that delights with both its action and Donaera's accompanying, beautiful illustrations that support science-based lesson plans, as well.

The Legend of Jet the Gerbil is very, very highly recommended for its excellent combination of both word and art." -- D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer - Midwest Book Review

"Michael thinks his pet, Jet, is the world’s most amazing gerbil. He’s fast. He’s strong. He’s super-smart when he is put in a maze. And he listens to young Michael’s stories of what goes on in school.  Kid and gerbil love one another.

One day, Michael is playing with Jet while his dad uses a vacuum cleaner to clean the cage. Suddenly, Jet is swooshed into the machine. Michael and Dad, a cardiologist, race to the basement where the vacuum dust will be deposited. And there is a limp little body. Can Dad save the greatest gerbil of all time? Yes, yes he can.

The author has told this story for years, but he never had time to write it down when he was CEO/president of St. Paul-based Pearson Candy Co. and, before that, chief marketing officer for International Dairy Queen when it was based in Minneapolis.

There isn’t a kid who won’t love this book, especially because the illustrations of the little gerbil are so endearing with his round body and big eyes. And don’t most kids think their pet is the smartest in the world?

The book includes an interactive maze on the endpapers and “Gerbil facts to chew on.” Jet the Gerbil coloring sheets and K-3 Next Generation Science Standards-based lesson plans are available at" -- Mary Ann Grossman, Twin Cities Pioneer Press