Tag Archives: Animal Families

Hero Cat: Guest Post by Huyen MacMichael

Please note: Vegbooks has moved to vegbooks.orgThis is the last review that will be posted at this URL. This review, as well as all of your favorite past posts, are up on the new site. See you there!

After much searching in winter weather, a homeless cat finds an abandoned building to deliver her kittens. When she leaves her kittens to find some nourishment, she returns to find the building up in flames. As the firefighters work to put out the fire, the mother cat works to save her kittens, walking through the fire to find and carry them out one at a time. Hero Cat is a story about mother love as much as it is a cat story.

Spinelli describes a mother determined to do the best she can for her young and it is not so much that she’s a cat that makes the story amazing to me, but that she goes repeatedly into the burning building to save every single one of her babies. And then I read the final page and discover it’s based on a true story with a picture of the burnt cat and her kittens at a shelter. It brought me to tears seeing the photo and reading the biographical note. Stammen’s illustrations are
appealing and my daughter fell in love with the cat and the book. So did I.

Ages 4-8.

About Huyen: Huyen MacMichael is a stay-at-home mom, artist, and art therapist. She feels lucky to have found the sweetest rescued blue tick coonhound at the local no-kill shelter. She is raising her daughter vegan with her husband Ryan of Vegblog.org. As a mom, she enjoys the opportunity to read large quantities of children’s books to her daughter. As an advocate for the creative process, she appreciates a well-told and well-illustrated story.


Five Lost Chicks

This cute little board book by Jane Brett and Kate Davies teaches little kids counting while demonstrating a mother hen’s love for her brood.  The farm is idyllic — picture Farm Sanctuary or Poplar Spring — unlike industrial factory farms.  But given the target audience, I think it’s just right.

Ages 0-3.

Do Animals Have Feelings Too?

Written by David L. Rice and illustrated by Trudy Calvert, Do Animals Have Feelings Too? explores the animal kingdom emotion by emotion.  Kids will learn that chimpanzees exhibit compassion, elephants grieve, and orcas can be vengeful.

Mr. Rice’s anecdotes are at once funny and touching — and by implication, they touch on the ways that people treat animals unkindly.  Under the heading of “Joy,” for example, he recounts an incident where a young circus elephant observed children playing on the swings and tried to join in the fun by trying to sit on one of the swings herself.  Why, children might ask, are elephants forced to perform — and how do they get from place to place?

This lovely book celebrates the attributes we share with other animals and is a welcome addition to any bookshelf.

Ages 4-12.

Make Way for Ducklings

Published in 1941, Robert McCloskey‘s well-known picture book conveys respect for animals and kindness toward them.  Mr. and  Mrs. Mallard set up their home in Boston, carefully selecting a safe location, building their nest, and hatching eight ducklings.   When they agree to meet in the pond in the Public Garden, Mrs. Mallard must navigate the way from the Charles River to the park with her eight little ones.

The challenge of Mrs. Mallard’s route is navigating the busy street with the ducklings in tow.  Happily, a police officer named Michael comes to her rescue, stopping traffic at one intersection and eventually phoning three other officers to assist with getting the ducks safely across Beacon Street.

As someone who is mindful of wildlife along my route (going so far as to carry turtles across the street when I see them), I love the message this book conveys.  Pair that with Mr. McCloskey’s attention to detail and gentle prose, and the result is a timeless book that I expect my child is likely to read to her own someday.

Ages 3-8.

The Magic Finger

Ever get so mad at someone that you see red?  When that happens to the narrator of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake‘s book The Magic Finger, she points her magic finger and well … things happen.

Veg kids will probably relate when the narrator gets angry at her friends and neighbors, the Greggs, for hunting deer and ducks, and they’ll be delighted to find out that the result of her finger-pointing is that the Greggs and the ducks change places for a night.  When the ducks take up arms and confront the Greggs about the slaughter of their family, the lesson is brought home.  The Greggs promise never to hunt again; instead, they destroy their guns and put flowers on the graves of the dead ducks.

Ages 8-12.  For more reviews, visit Goodreads.

A Pinky Is a Baby Mouse

Inspired by the fact that a baby spiny anteater is a puggle (!), Pam Munoz Ryan wrote A Pinky Is a Baby Mouse to introduce young children to animal families ranging from spiders to lions.  Her delightful text is accompanied by very detailed and realistic illustrations by Diane deGroat.

I had picked up a secondhand copy this book for kiddo because it’s featured on the Maine Animal Coalition’s book list.  While there isn’t a strong animal protection message — in fact, one of the illustrations appears to depict a zoo — I think this book is a good addition to our shelves because it’s engaging and informative.   This book invites us to engage with the natural world around us: a world teeming with fingerlings, polliwogs, spikes, and elvers.

Ages 4-6.