‘The Traveling Cat Chronicles’ by Hiro Arikawa Is a Spectacularly Charming Tale Narrated by the Cat and his Rescuer

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“The Traveling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa is a story narrated by a cheeky cat whose pert narrative is touching, humorous, and — to those who know cats — pure feline. This is the story of Nana, the supremely wise cat, and Satoru, the supremely wise human who befriends and rescues Nana. Or does Nana rescue Satoru?

Contained in this charming book are stories about Satoru’s life as he travels to visit old friends in search of a new home for Nana. He tells each friend that although he loves Nana dearly, he must find a new home for his beautiful cat. He doesn’t explain why, although readers will begin to suspect the reason by the middle of the book.

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‘Love Can Be: A Literary Collection About Our Animals’ Is Filled with Beautiful Stories about the Creatures Who Fill our Lives with Beauty

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“Love Can Be” is a touching and creative collection of writing about animals and our connections to them. The contributors include Joyce Carol Oates, Delia Ephron, S. E. Hinton, and Reyna Grande. The stories vary in content from Dean Koontz sharing a story about his much-loved dog Trixie, to Reyna Grande discussing monarch butterflies and comparing their long migration to her life. Both stories share the beauty and mystery of our love for animals.

Each story, those which are not stories about beloved pets and those that are, share a sense of wonder about the world around us and the animals that inhabit them. Those animals whose lives intersect ours enrich us through that interaction from raccoons being saved to frogs and turtles in danger on roadways.

One story, by Wade Rouse, made me cry. He shares the power of dogs to heal us, and his story about rescuing animals and how they repay that good deed many times over is a truth that those who rescue hear over and over. “That dog got me through my cancer treatment” is a statement that I have been told from at least two people who adopted dogs I’d rescued. One was a puppy mill survivor, Irving, and the other a terrier mix whom I found wandering down the sidewalk in Highland Park, unwanted and ungroomed. Rouse’s story is about his father-in-law who had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and, ignoring all advice and warnings about getting someone a dog for Christmas, they got him a black Lab mix. It was beautiful, tear-jerkingly beautiful — both the story and the writing. Just like love can be.

Love can be many things, and with animals, all things are possible. One thing that is sure is that “Love Can Be: A Literary Collection About our Animals” would be a perfect gift for any animal lover on your holiday gift list. Truly.

The Kirkpatrick Foundation is donating all net proceeds of this book to animal charities in Oklahoma as well as honoraria donated to the contributor’s selected animal charities. Dean Koontz, for example, is a huge supporter of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), an organization that supplies service dogs to the handicapped and facility dogs to those who work in hospitals and schools. (I attended training for my facility dog at the Oceanside branch of CCI, to which Koontz has donated generously.) His much loved dogs were CCI dogs who were released for various reasons and adopted.

The Kirkpatrick Foundation’s Safe & Humane initiative is comprised of people who care about the welfare of animals and understand that the wellbeing of animals is a key component of community well-being. They are committed to making Oklahoma the safest and most humane place to be an animal by the year 2032. Learn more about that here.

Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by Wunderkind PR for review purposes.

Andy Carpenter is ‘Rescued’ In this Latest Mystery by David Rosenfelt

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If you’ve never read an “Andy Carpenter Mystery” by David Rosenfelt, “Rescued” is certainly a fine place to start — because this entry, the seventeenth in the series, is just as entertaining, suspenseful, and laugh-out-loud funny as all the earlier sixteen.

Rosenfelt’s dry and self-effacing sense of humor is, as usual, on display on virtually every page of “Rescued.” This time, the wealthy, super-bright, and self-confessed rather lazy lawyer, Andy Carpenter, is persuaded to defend an ex-cop who’s been accused of murder. The ex-cop is also the ex-lover of Andy’s wife Laurie, who is herself an expert investigator.

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‘Squirm’ by Carl Hiaasen Is Yet Another Superb Middle Grade Adventure for Animal Lovers

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Carl Hiaasen’s adult books are crazy-wonderful, and his middle grade novels are just as crazy, but much more child-appropriate. They are crazy fun, crazy fabulous, crazily filled with wonderful animals, and wonderfully filled with crazy characters.

In this novel, which takes place both in Florida and Montana, Billy Dickens is the main character. He narrates the tale of his journey to find his father, and along the way he finds an unexpected extended family, performs some hero-worthy exploits, and develops appreciation for his quirky parents.

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Florida dogs abandoned in rural shelter desperate for rescue or they may be killed; shelter is packed

There are 39 dogs in Sebring, Florida who have a deadline. That means that if they are not adopted or pulled by rescue before then, they are in danger of being killed. Don’t blame the shelter — blame those who dump their dogs with no thought of what will become of them. These dogs are wonderful, and the shelter is very transparent about what they do and don’t know. They often know if the dogs will not get along with other dogs and cats and will indicate that. Many of these dogs have lived outside and never known a soft bed, while others were family dogs discarded when they became inconvenient.

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‘A Borrowing of Bones’ by Paula Munier Is an Action-Filled Murder Mystery

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Who can resist a mystery with charismatic working dogs galore and even a cat rescue? With “A Borrowing of Bones,” author Paula Munier delivers a perfect paean to those who work to keep our wilderness safe (our forest rangers), our military veterans, and both dogs and cats who come into our lives and calm us down, give us unconditional love, and keep us warm on cold nights. Some, like the incredible dogs in this story, protect us.

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‘The Law of Finders Keepers’ by Sheila Turnage Is the Last of the Mo & Dale Mystery Series

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“The Case of Finders Keepers” by Sheila Turnage will keep fans of Mo LoBeau thrilled at the details that are unveiled about Mo’s Upstream Mother and Blackbeard’s treasure that they seek in this fourth book.

Moses, so named because she was found after a hurricane swept her into the arms of her rescuer on a huge wave of water and a large sign, has been writing to and searching for her Upstream Mother for a while. She writes to her, but luckily, Mo has the love of Miss Lana and the Colonel which whom she lives. They run a café where Mo serves and impudently garners big tips.

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‘Blue’: A Picture Book by Laura Vaccaro Seeger About All the Shades of Blue, Happy and Sad

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“Blue” by Laura Vaccaro Seeger follows her fabulous picture book “Green.” Unlike the previous color-themed book, “Blue” tells a story about a boy and his dog. The story begins with the color baby blue, a puppy and an infant boy whose blue rattle is cut out in the center; and that blue circle becomes the blue center of a wheel on the little red wagon the young boy is using to take his young dog for a ride.

And as the two grow up together, always in shades of blue, always with cutouts on one page that lead to the next, the scenes vary from ocean blue to sky blue to midnight blue. Always with boy and dog, inseparable.

But blue is at heart a sad color. And the sad truth about loving a dog is that its lifespan is so very short when compared to ours. And a when a young boy and a young dog grow up together, when the boy becomes a teenager, his constant companion, his shadow, his loving confidante, is at the end of his life.

But having loved a dog, truly loved a dog, few choose to remain dog-less for long, and “Blue” is a story not just of love and loss, but of the renewal of love and the rebirth of that loving connection that we feel with our dogs. All in blue. All beautiful.

Each page has a cut-out shape in an object that leads to a different object on the following page. Kids love seeing what happens when the circle cutout depicting a beach ball and a boy in a red shirt becomes a red balloon when the circle opening is now on the red of the boy’s shirt from the previous page. The cutouts and how they are created are brilliant, but so are the many and varied shades and emotions of blue.

Pick this book as a gift for anyone in your life who loves dogs, who loves color, who loves life. Buy it for yourself.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Roaring Brook Press, for review purposes.

Middle Grade Novel ‘Strays Like Us’ Lovely Story About Child and Dog in Need of Help

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“Strays Like Us” by Cecilia Galante is an often heart-wrenching story of a child and a dog, both in need. Fred, short for Winifred, lived with her mother who had an addiction problem. Although her mother managed to keep a job at a drug store, her behavior and financial problems meant Fred’s life was never predictable. Her mother constantly told Fred how much she needed Fred, and how she relied on Fred.

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‘Lifel1k3’ (Lifelike) by Jay Kristoff is the First Book in a YA Dystopia Series

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With “Lifel1k3,” author Jay Kristoff takes readers on a wild ride in a bleak (so very bleak!) dystopian future where atomic bombs have destroyed much of the Yousay (USA, get it?) and California has become a barren island because of a huge earthquake. The ocean is filled with plastic and other garbage, and animals and trees are nonexistent.

In fact, robots and humans coexist in a depressing world with gray skies and a desperate struggle for survival. In this world lives Evie, with her grandfather, her best friend Lemon, and her robot best friend Cricket. This family group is wonderful, but Grandpa is dying from cancer, so Evie fights robots in an arena to win money to buy him medicine.

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