Tag Archives: Companion Animals

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.

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Lucky Boy: Guest Post by Huyen MacMichael

Susan Boase tells a touching story about a neglected dog who luckily finds himself a better home with a widower. “He didn’t start out lucky.” The black and white illustrations depict the dog’s life with a family that considered him an “afterthought” and “had no time for him.” The descriptions and drawings portray the dog’s loneliness and boredom as well as the casual neglect that might be found in a busy family that does not include their pet as a part of the family. They feed him plenty but offer little else- not a bath, not admittance into their home (he has a fenced yard and doghouse), not even a name other than Boy.

Fortunately, Mr. Miller, the next door neighbor, plays the unwitting hero by providing Boy the care and attention a dog needs, true companionship, a real home, and even a real name: Lucky Boy. The key to the relationship between Mr. Miller and Lucky Boy is the statement “You and I are lucky to have found each other, Boy!” The author cleverly shows that Mr. Miller gains as much as Lucky Boy when they become friends and that the family never realizes or appreciates what Lucky Boy offers.

For animal lovers and activists, the family’s neglect would raise hackles but I feel like the author was accurate in the descriptions. That family could easily describe the many families that go out to get a dog but don’t have time to walk him or take him anywhere. The tone the author takes is a gentle criticism of the busy lives of families which to me, makes it more effective than painting them with a black brush for their neglect.

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.

Bolt

Kiddo and I both loved “Bolt,” though I do think she was a little young to understand it entirely.  It starts sweetly when Penny rescues Bolt as a puppy.  Viewers soon discover that Bolt and Penny are stars of an action TV series, but Bolt has no idea that it’s all make-believe.  When he is separated from Penny, he must traverse the country to be reunited with his person, all the while coming to grips with the reality that he does not have super powers.

Kids will love the movie’s fast pace and the rapport among Bolt, a cat named Mittens, and a hamster named Rhino.  And parents who are concerned with animal welfare will appreciate the film’s message that people need to be faithful to their animal companions for life.

Ages 5+.  Rated PG.

Speak! Children’s Book Illustrators Brag About Their Dogs

Check out the stories, poems, and (most importantly) pictures of the dogs loved by Lucy Cousins, Barbara Westman, Lisa Campbell Ernst, Wendell Minor, Betsey Everitt, and other children’s book illustrators.

From the sweet to the sublime, these brief write-ups capture some of the intimate moments people share with their canine companions.

Ages 9-12.

Biscuit

Biscuit, the little golden pup in Alyssa Satin Capucilli and Pat Schories‘s early reader book, wants all the same things as kids do when he’s getting ready for bed.  He wants a snack, a drink, a kiss, a hug, one more story, the light on … and his young friend patiently provides them all.  By the end of the night, he’s curled up next to her bed and the two are sharing the duvet.

Little kids will identify with Biscuit and will learn that companion animals need lots of love, care, and attention.

Ages 4-6.

Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy

I’ve got mixed feelings about the Fancy Nancy series by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser.  On one hand, Nancy is a bright, confident girl who likes learning new words and being thoughtful to her friends.  On the other, what she really loves — her whole raison d’etre — is to be fancy.  And heaven knows there’s enough princess lit geared to little girls.

So when kiddo received Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy, I had qualms.  Would Nancy go for a purebred papillon, like her neighbor Mrs. Devine’s dog Jewel?  Would she convince her parents they absolutely needed to go to a breeder, where they could find the fanciest dog?

Happily, the answer to both of those questions is NO.  Nancy does dogsit Jewel for a day, but when her parents stop by the local animal shelter after an evening out (eating what I can only assume is pizza with Daiya “cheese” at King’s Crown), she falls in love with Frenchy.  In the end, even Fancy Nancy finds her dream dog is a rescue.

To O’Connor and Preiss Glasser’s credit, the shelter message is crystal clear — but kids might need to be told that Frenchy is not only a shelter dog, but a mutt.  (Nancy’s dad’s reference to a “La Salle spaniel,” a nod to the name of the animal shelter, might be too subtle for some.)

Ideal for girls — and open-minded boys — ages 3-7.  (Publisher says 4-7 but kiddo loved this series when she was 3.)