Kids love animals, and when picture books feature animals to get across a message, or just to entertain, kids are sure to enjoy them. Here are several picture books that will include some that are destined to become favorites.
“Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death” by Caitlin Doughty, after two weeks in print, was eighth in hardcover nonfiction in the New York Times list of of bestsellers. Death sells. Doughty writes a book that will simultaneously make you gag and smile, but certainly won’t make you die laughing. In fact, that’s one question that isn’t answered in this book with strange facts about dead bodies and death — can you die laughing? Apparently no child asked that question. Maybe in the next book, Caitlin?
While this memoir, “An Elephant in My Kitchen: What the Herd Taught Me About Love, Courage and Survival” is, in a way, a sequel to “The Elephant Whisperer,” it’s a different story with a different writer. Françoise Malby-Anthony is a fabulous narrator, and her story brings readers to tears at times, but her strength and her determination shine through, as do her compassion and her inner goodness.
Both books are about Thula Thula, the game reserve that Françoise and her late husband, Lawrence, built together. He was the animal guy, and she took care of the lodges, booking guests and running the marketing. He was out in the field, solving elephant problems and issues with poachers, while she dealt with bad Tripadvisor reviews.
Last Friday I got a text from a young high school friend. She sent me a video of a black cat walking by her bus stop in our neighborhood. She said it looked skinny and seemed to be limping. It went up to a house where there was food outside, and when the man inside tried to greet it, it ran away.
I decided that I would try to help that cat, so after work I took a can of cat food and went to the house where they were feeding it. The woman who lived there agreed that I could try to trap the cat and get it medical care. She said that she would keep the cat if we caught it! I left canned food in the bowl she had left outside (filled with dog food). The next morning I went back and saw the food was gone. I left more food and explained that I was trying to find a humane trap and how they work. Continue reading
It’s rare for me to get three nonfiction adult books about dogs in one month, and even rarer when there is a definite link between the three books. “Rescue Dogs: Where They Come From, Why They Act the Way They Do, and How to Love Them Well” is, like all of the books, a touching set of stories, all about “Pete Paxton” (a pseudonym) and his investigation and undercover work to help dogs who are suffering from puppy mills, bunching facilities, and backyard breeders. The stories are heartbreaking, and in the subsequent sections of the book he delineates why it’s important to rescue or adopt a dog instead of buying one from a breeder or pet store. He also shares how to find a rescue dog and what to expect when you bring it home. His stories always focus on one special dog that energized him, a special personality that motivated him to make things better for all dogs. And in “Doctor Dogs,” Maria Goodavage shares stories of many special dogs, all of whom make the lives of their humans infinitely better. In fact, many of these special dogs have the ability to make life better for mankind as a whole. She shares the many, myriad ways dogs heal us, help us discover illness, help us live with disease, and help us emotionally. The third book, “Molly: The true story of the amazing dog who rescues cats,” brings things full circle with the two previous books. Molly is a rescue, and that’s what Colin Butcher, the author, was determined to use for his proposition — training a dog to rescue cats. He and his family had rescued animals his whole life, and he didn’t want to buy a dog from a breeder, but rather rescue one, as is encouraged in “Rescue Dogs.” Interestingly, the training that Molly received is from the same group that is mentioned often in “Doctor Dogs,” and which nonprofit trains dogs to help humans in many, many ways — even finding lost cats.
Each of these three books is a fabulous read — but don’t just read one, read them all! Continue reading
Fans of the “Andy Carpenter” series are going to be thrilled. New readers will be charmed. With “Dachshund Through the Snow,” author David Rosenfelt has added a new canine to the regulars. There’s Tara, namesake of the late real Tara much beloved by Rosenfelt and his wife, for whom they began to rescue many, many senior dogs. Then there’s the basset hound Sebastian, whose gait is tortoise-slow. Now there’s Simon, retired (thanks to Andy Carpenter’s brilliance and his handler’s love) K9. He and his handler, Corey Douglas, will be making return appearances. Continue reading
Kids and animals — I love fabulous picture books about animals that will get kids hooked on reading. These nonfiction picture books are filled with color and animals, some about specific animals that fly or swim and about a plethora of other animals. One is even poetry about animals. Enjoy this list of books that are perfect for animal lovers and great for any library or bookshelf. Be prepared to read them time and time again for your young animal lover. It’s a long list, but it’s a wonderful one.
Fans of Rick Riordan’s many fantasy series, like the Percy Jackson series (The Lightning Thief) are sure to love many of the series in the “Rick Riordan Presents” imprint. The “Storm Runner” series takes the idea of young heroes who are the offspring of gods and mortals and moves it to New Mexico, where the gods are Mayan.
In “The Fire Keeper,” the second in the series, Zane Obispo (don’t you just love the name?) has met his father, the fire god Hurakan, and received a special walking cane/spear/staff from him. While Zane’s limp has always been a source of embarrassment to him, it turns out that the apparent handicap is because of his god blood and is an indication of his power. Zane can control fire — albeit to a very limited degree. He and his family live on a secluded tropical island that is protected by magic from notice of the other Mayan gods, who think he is dead. And that’s the way they prefer it.. Continue reading
There’s nothing that goes together better than a child and a dog, unless it’s a child and a cat or some other kind of pet. In this collection of wonderful picture books, the authors show the special bond that children have with animals. Full disclosure: I’m a teacher, and I believe every child should have a pet. I must also disclose that I rescue dogs and cats (and occasionally rats and rabbits and birds) and always help my students try to convince their parents that they should have a dog or cat. Read on and maybe you’ll be convinced, too.
Children and adults love picture books that are about animals. In this collection of recently released picture books, readers will love reading about pets, but even more, they will love that these books are not about a traditional pets. Each one is quirky and each one will entertain children read after read.
“Spencer’s New Pet” by Jessie Sima is a fabulous story, and the illustrations tell the whole story. It’s a book without words, and kids love being the ones to tell the story. Even the endpapers are lovely as they countdown the start of the story as if it’s a silent film, because in a way, a story with no words is like a silent film. The reader/watcher has to supply the text. The illustrations are mostly in black and white, with many shades of gray and spots of red — a color that becomes important. The story is even divided into parts like a silent film. The first character we see is the balloon dog, “the pet.” Then we see the boy, who we know from the title is Spencer, leaving a circus tent and walking his new pet on a leash. He is entranced with his new pet and plays with it constantly and sleeps with it at night. But he quickly realizes that life is filled with dangerous sharp objects that could be deadly. Kids (and adults) adore the huge twist at the end that no one saw coming. One reading will not be enough. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
In “Sauerkraut,” author Kelly Jones continues to show her expertise in writing clever and touching stories that include a bit of ghostly action. In this story, Hans Dieter Schenk, also known as HD. His dad was Hans Peter Schenk, his grandfather Hans Gerhard Schenk, and before him Hans Franz Schenk. Until HD, all the Hans’ looked pretty much the same with pale skin, hair and blue eyes. But HD is different. While his skin is lighter than his mothers, his dark locs (dreadlocks) are longer than hers. And people sometimes confuse his father with his best friend Eli’s father “Just because they’re both white. It’s … awkward.”
“Awesome Dog 5000,” by Justin Dean with its rocket-launcher paws and a mega-atomic cannon will send you soaring to new heights. As soon as readers open the book and start reading, the cliffhangers get you hooked and it is hard to resist reading until the last page. This geeky, action, and humor-packed book is sure to please readers unless, of course, they get scared by the “book warnings” the author provides warning readers about what is to come. They usually occur before you get to the geeky/action/humor parts. So, if you think you can resist all of the imagination Dean puts into this book, why don’t you read the first ten pages and see if this clever, action-filled book doesn’t hook you immediately!
In this story, Marty had to move from his old town. Now he is stuck in this new place, where he has no friends, and more importantly, he possibly could be called the dreaded “d” word–dork. Marty and his mom are living in a house where they think a toothbrush inventor lived. Marty is nervous about school, so he makes a simple list of things NOT to do, to make sure he doesn’t make a fool of himself: