picture books - BC SPCA

picture books - BC SPCA

1245 East 7th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V5T 1R1 604-681-7271 spca.bc.ca January 2017 How we assess for humane content There is a wide range of children...

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1245 East 7th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V5T 1R1 604-681-7271 spca.bc.ca January 2017

How we assess for humane content There is a wide range of children and young adult books that deal with animals. Animals take different roles in books. Books that show the human-animal bond and the intrinsic value of animals are the types of books we would like to recommend. In order to promote animal welfare we ask ourselves these questions when assessing books to recommend. 1. Are the animals anthropomorphized (given human characteristics) or are they realistic? 2. Does the book promote positive or negative attitudes towards animals? (pets as family members) 3. Are the animals well cared for? (kept indoors, positive training methods, etc.) 4. Are animals stereotyped? (i.e. are rottweilers portrayed as mean and vicious) 5. Are the facts about the animals correct? 6. What lessons can be learned from the book to improve animal welfare? Classroom Activity: Have students answer the above questions about books they read or books you ask them to review.

PICTURE BOOKS KokoCat, Inside and Out by Lynda Graham-Barber Reading level: Grade K-2 In KokoCat, Inside and Out, Lynda Graham-Barber tells the story of KokoCat, an indoor cat who lives a comfortable life with a nice family. So what happens when one day the door opens and KokoCat’s curiosity takes her outside to explore? Quickly lost, KokoCat experiences the life of an outdoor cat. Cold, hungry and alone, she must fend for herself for the very first time. Will KokoCat get back home again? Face-paced and featuring illustrations that beautifully depict the difference between KokoCat’s indoor and outdoor experiences, this story gives young readers an excellent opportunity to consider whether cats are safer inside or outside.

The Forgotten Rabbit by Nancy Furstinger Reading level: Grade K+ What happens when rabbits are bought as gifts, impulsively and without thought to their future care? This is the question addressed in The Forgotten Rabbit. Born on a farm to a loving mother, the rabbit who narrates this tale is purchased as an Easter gift for children. Initially, the rabbit – called Bunny – receives plenty of care and attention. But soon the kids turn their interest to other things, and Bunny’s cage is moved to the backyard. As the seasons change and winter eventually sets in, the reader sees how Bunny suffers. Thankfully, a girl named Rosalita adopts Bunny, changes her name to Bella and gives her a good life in her new home. Though they are the third most popular pet in North America, rabbits are still often viewed as disposable, or relegated to the backyard. The Forgotten Rabbit gives attention to the unique care needs of rabbits, highlighting the importance of a loving, indoor home, companionship and exercise. With colourful, full-page illustrations, this is not only a touching story, but also an excellent introduction to rabbit welfare.



The Happy Tale of Two Cats by Cathy M. Rosenthal Reading level: Grade K+ It is only when an unhappy cat’s guardians move away and leave her that she begins to transition – slowly, and with the help of kind people – into a happy cat herself. From the abandoned house to the animal shelter and eventually her forever home, she finds safety, friendship and love. The Happy Tale of Two Cats tells a sweet and memorable story of what can happen when caring people in the community all take a part in turning an animal’s life around. It addresses the importance not only of physically caring for our feline friends, but also being companions to them.

The Lucky Tale of Two Dogs by Cathy M. Rosenthal Reading level: Grades K-3 It is only when the unlucky dog escapes from his yard and is picked up by animal control that his life turns around and he becomes a happy dog. From the backyard to the streets, to the animal shelter and eventually to his forever home, he finds safety, friendship and love. The Lucky Tale of Two Dogs tells a sweet and memorable story of what can happen when caring people in the community all take part in turning an animal’s life around. It addresses the importance of social interaction for dogs as well as their physical needs, but also the responsibility of being a pet guardian. The joy and companionship is beneficial to both the guardian and the canine. Use this as an introduction to pet care, animal abuse or animal shelters.

So, what’s it like to be a cat? by Karla Kuskin Reading level: Grade K-3 With great style, award-winning children’s poet Karla Kuskin uses an interview format – between an inquisitive boy and a witty cat – to ask and answer questions about the feline way of life. Do cats like dark hallways? Getting up for breakfast? Dancing? The responses from this cat might surprise readers – and cause them to think differently about their own cats. Kuskin’s fluid verse combines with Betsy’s Lewin’s delightful watercolour illustrations to wholly capture the cat’s personality and movement. So, what’s it like to be a cat? is a great book to read aloud with a class. After reading, children may like to pose their own questions about how animals think and feel, and observe their pets’ behaviour to seek the answers.

The Bookshop Dog by Cynthia Rylant Reading level: Grade K-2 The Bookshop Dog, is a colourful story about Martha Jane, a bookshop dog who is loved by everyone she meets. When Martha Jane’s guardian becomes ill, she must find someone to care for her pet for a week. This doesn’t prove difficult. Everyone in town clamours to become Martha Jane’s sitter, with some over-the-top results! Readers in Kindergarten to Grade 2 will enjoy the descriptions and drawings of the book’s characters, especially the townspeople: well-meaning but not always well-behaved folks who demonstrate just how silly people can become when they really, really love an animal. 2


MUTTS Shelter Stories: Love Guaranteed by Patrick McDonnell Reading level: Grades 3+ (ages up to adult) MUTTS Shelter Stories Love Guaranteed is a heartwarming collection of “MUTTS” comic strips by Patrick McDonnell. The collection of comic strips is dispersed with real stories of adopted pets from guardians throughout the world. McDonnell strikes a balance between lighthearted fun and responsible social commentary without being preachy. The comic strips incorporate messages of responsible pet guardianship, animal advocacy and adoption and the sanctity of all life His characters are emotive and expound the important messages of shelter animals. It is hard not to feel empathy for these characters Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell Reading level: Grade K-3 In Me…Jane, writer and illustrator Patrick McDonnell goes back in time to tell the true story of a young Dr. Jane Goodall, a child intensely curious about and connected to nature. The story follows Jane, and her toy chimpanzee, as she teaches herself about the world by reading books and studying her own backyard. She pays close attention to wildlife and understands that she is part of the natural world – a “magical world full of joy and wonder.” Young Jane dreams of a life living with, and helping, animals… until one day, her dream comes true. This true story encourages curiosity and kindness towards animals, and is an inspirational example of following your dreams. Featuring an accompanying biography and special message from Jane Goodall, Me…Jane is a wonderful addition to any library.

South by Patrick McDonnell Reading level: Preschool-Grade 1, but may be enjoyed by all ages. South, by writer and artist Patrick McDonnell, does not include any words – but it says a lot. Through a series of simple and very effective illustrations, South tells the story of a little bird whose flock migrates for the winter, leaving him behind. An unlikely friend, Mooch the cat, notices the little bird’s sorrow and helps him. Together they set out on a journey to catch up with the flock – they travel until they hear the familiar music of the little bird’s family. South is a beautifully understated story that uses animal characters to touch on themes of compassion, friendship and the importance of family – no matter who you are. The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell Reading level: Preschool-Grade 1 What do you give a friend who has everything? That’s what Mooch the cat asks himself. Mooch wants to give his friend Earl a special gift, but Earl already has a bowl, a bed, a chew toy – and everything a dog needs. After a lot of thought, Mooch decides that “nothing” is the best gift for Earl… but “in a world filled with so many somethings, where could he find nothing?” Mooch figures out how to give Earl nothing – and everything – by giving of himself. A wonderful meditation on friendship and the value of offering our undivided time rather than “stuff,” The Gift of Nothing uses animal characters to draw in the reader and make us think differently about the gifts that we give our loved ones, including our pets. Patrick McDonnell’s signature illustrations echo the message of the story; even in their sparse simplicity they fill the pages with tenderness.



Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix Reading level: Grades K-3 Before being rescued, Buddy lived his life on the end of a chain no matter what the weather, rain, shine or snow. Now that he has been adopted into a loving home, he shares his story of neglect and rescue. The illustrations capture the expression of a dog who has lost hope and then has his trust in humans restored. The message of the importance of properly caring for pets and reporting neglect and abuse can initiate a great discussion on preventing cruelty. Suitable for students aged 5+. If you have older students, consider asking them to read this book to their younger reading buddies.

Are You Ready for Me? by Claire Buchwald Reading Level: Grade K-3 Written from a dog’s point of view, Are You Ready for Me? illustrates the responsibilities and joys of adopting a dog into your family. Many children ask their parents for a pet without having any reference or understanding of the commitment it takes to care for another living creature. This book covers the important topics that must be discussed before adopting a dog. There is even a contract at the back of the book that families can sign together to show their commitment to their new family member.

It’s Raining Pups and Dogs! by Jeanne Prevost Reading level: Grade K-3 For many children the thought of having a house full of puppies sounds like a dream. In this book a young girl named Lauren is disappointed that her dog is spayed, taking away the chance to ever have a litter of puppies. But Lauren’s dad knows that spaying was the right thing to do as responsible pet guardians. He helps Lauren come to the same conclusion by visiting the animal shelter. While the challenges of the animal shelter depicted in It’s Raining Pups and Dogs! aren’t indicative of all shelters, the general message – there are too many animals in need of homes to not spay and neuter – is absolutely true. Straightforward language and realistic illustrations makes this a great way to teach chlidren about this important animal welfare issue.

Max Talks to Me by Claire Buchwald Reading level: Grades K - 3 The bond between a human and an animal can be quite amazing. Max Talks to Me explores how a boy and his dog communicate with each other and the bond that is created. Max does not speak but, through observation and the relationship that is established, the young narrator can predict Max’s behaviour and appreciate his companion as a real friend. Anyone who has ever experienced this bond will appreciate the illustrations in which Max’s eyes and expression say it all.



Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover by Denise Fleck Reading level: Grade 1+ Young Mary-Alice likes things to look “pretty,” whether they are the books she reads or the friends she makes. When told she can get a dog, Mary-Alice says she wants the fluffy puppy with pink bow from the pet store. But instead, with the guidance of her parents and a shelter worker, she gives Rico, an adult black Labrador from the shelter, a chance. By following Mary-Alice and her family as they adopt Rico, the reader learns about some of the common prejudices faced by shelter animals relating to their colour, age or breed. By playing with Rico and realizing that he’s different than she first assumed, Mary-Alice learns to be more open-minded in other areas of her life (like with a new girl at school) and carries this lesson with her years later.

Norman, Speak! by Caroline Adderson Reading Level: Grades 1-5 A young boy and his family adopt a scruffy little dog called Norman from a local animal shelter. Norman has lots of energy but appears to lack any training, leading the family to think Norman isn’t very bright. It turns out Norman was trained using Chinese commands. Once the family learns the Chinese equivalent commands they discover Norman is a smart, well-behaved dog after all. The story illustrates the importance of not judging someone until you really get to know them.

The Stray Dog by Marc Simont Reading Level: Grades K-3 The Stray Dog by Marc Simont is a Caldecott Honor Book about a family that encounters a stray dog at a park. Short, simple sentences tell this emotional, appealing true story. After playing with a dog, whom they fondly name Willy, all day at a park, the family leaves him behind thinking he must belong to someone. But as the days go by they can’t stop thinking about him. The next week they see Willy at the park but he is being chased by the dog catcher. Quick thinking and talking convinces the dog catcher that Willy is their dog. This time Willy goes home with them and becomes part of the family.

Always Blue for Chicu by Karen Dugan Reading level: Grade K-3 For a parrot named Chicu, the colour blue symbolizes both safety and freedom. Born in Argentina, young Chicu spends time discovering the world around him and learning to fly. One day, Chicu is trapped and taken away to be sold in the exotic pet trade. After initially living on a boat with a sailor named Big Blue, Chicu is passed around for 30 years. From long stretches all alone in his cage to being fed peanuts in a smoky bar and then kissed, cuddled and dressed up, Chicu is often frustrated that he is not able to behave like a real parrot. Eventually, he is taken to a parrot sanctuary where he is reunited with an old friend. Always Blue for Chicu tells a lively, complex story with colourful, action-filled illustrations while touching on some important animal welfare issues for exotic pets like parrots. Readers can consider the problem of taking a wild animal from his natural habitat and think about ways it may be difficult to provide proper care. The book also includes questions for current or potential parrot guardians to consider, as well as resources for rehoming parrots and learning more about these animals and the challenges they face.



The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness by Colin Thompson Reading level: Grades K-3 The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness is an evocative story about the importance of family and the role that animals can play in our everyday happiness. George is a lonely little boy who finds a three-legged friend in “the last cage in the last aisle” of the animal shelter. Along with George’s grandmother, they embark on a fun-filled life together. Using clear, intelligent language, Thompson does not shy away from complex subject matter; he tells the story of a child’s journey through loneliness with grace. The illustrations capture the mood of the story and, along with the characters, become lighter and brighter as the book nears its happy conclusion.

Yoda The Story of a Cat and His Kittens by Beth Stern Reading level: Grades K-3 Yoda: The Story of a Cat and His Kittens is a heartwarming tale of a long overlooked shelter cat who finds his calling as a foster mom/dad. Yoda spent months waiting for his forever home, watching other cat pals get adopted and dreaming of becoming a supercat. Little did he know what fate had in store for him. When Beth (wife of Howard Stern and avid kitten foster mom) chose Yoda as her newest furry family member, Yoda thought he was dreaming. But something wasn’t quite right. Yoda’s heart was sad until he discovered the room full of foster kittens down the hall. Yoda immediately took charge, grooming them, teaching them to be gentle and keeping them safe. He found his purpose and finally became the supercat he’d always imagined he could be. The illustrations are bright, colourful and fun, helping to tell the true tale of how a special needs rescue cat can defeat the odds and brighten lives every day. Use this book to introduce students to the concept of fostering animals.

The Dog Who Belonged to No One by Amy Hest Reading level: Grades 1-3 The Dog Who Belonged to No One, weaves the separate stories of a stray dog with crooked ears and a “wisp of a girl” named Lia, each in need of a friend. Using soft watercolour illustrations, this sweet book paints a world filled with baseballs, bicycles, and a bakery on the edge of town. With lovely parallels drawn between the little dog and the little girl, the story reaches its climax with a terrific storm that sends them both running for the safety and comfort of home. The Dog Who Belonged to No One is a poetic tale of friendship found that is sure to warm the hearts of children and grown-ups alike. Stanley’s Party by Linda Bailey Reading level: Grades 2-3 “Stanley knew he wasn’t supposed to sit on the couch. But his people went out a lot. And they never came home before midnight.” So begins Stanley’s Party,. With exuberant illustrations this picture book for primary-aged students follows Stanley, a usually obedient dog who decides to push his luck. First, Stanley ventures onto the couch. When his action finds no consequence, he quickly discovers new ways to misbehave, until he’s hosting the entire canine community for a raucous party at his place. Kids will love this fun and funny book which paints dogs as they are: social animals who need companionship… of both their fellow pooches and their people. 6


It’s Raining Cats and Cats by Jeanne Prevost Reading level: Grades 2-4 (ages 7-10) It’s Raining Cats and Cats is a wonderfully illustrated book that deals with the serious topic of the importance of spaying and neutering a pet – but it does so in a humourous, delightful way. When Jim asks his mother why they had to prevent their cat from having kittens, she takes him into an imaginary future that depicts the potential number of kittens that would result from not having his cat spayed and all of the headaches that go with it. This book is the Winner of the ASPCA Henry Bergh Award for Best Children’s Picture Book, Fiction, Companion Animals.

Oh, Theodore! by Susan Katz Reading level: Grades 2-4 Oh, Theodore! is a vibrantly illustrated poetic story about patience, care and bonding with a new pet. The story is told from a young boy’s perspective on getting a guinea pig as a pet. He knows it will take patience and time for Theodore to trust him so he does everything slowly and gently. His reward is a new fuzzy friend that will squeak, nibble and entertain him for years. This is a great introduction to the care of guinea pigs in a fun, poetic format. Kids will love the poems and illustrations.

Pablo Puppy’s Search for the Perfect Person by Sheila Hamanaka Reading level: Grades 1-3 Published by the Animal Welfare Institute, Pablo Puppy’s Search for the Perfect Person tells the story of a stray puppy, Pablo, who ends up at the animal shelter. There, he meets Natasha, an wise older dog who tells him what it means to find the perfect person – someone who will provide everything Pablo needs to be healthy and happy and train him using love, not fear. Filled with colourful illustrations, Pablo Puppy’s Search for the Perfect Person is an appropriate book for children in grades 1 to 3. Readers will learn what it takes to provide good care to a pet. “Perfect people” come in all different forms; what they have in common is the understanding that caring for an animal is a very special responsibility.

Kamie Cat’s Terrible Night by Sheila Hamanaka Reading level: Grades 1-3 In Kamie Cat’s Terrible Night, writer and illustrator Sheila Hamanaka tells the fast-paced story of Kamie’s accidental escape from her cozy house with Mr. Wong. Dodging barking dogs and speeding cars, Kamie runs from house to house trying to get back home, but all she finds are strangers. Finally, a kind person sees Kamie and takes her to the animal shelter – but without an ID tag, how will she get back to her friend Mr. Wong? Published by the Animal Welfare Institute, Kamie Cat’s Terrible Night teaches readers the importance of treating pets well and highlights the bond between cats and their guardians. Children in grades 1 to 3 can read this story and consider what makes a good home for a cat, and what to do in case a pet becomes lost.



Fred and Pete at the Beach by Cynthia Nugent Reading level: Grades K - 2 Fred and Pete are pals but Fred is much more cautious and reserved than his adventurous, fun-loving buddy Pete. When their human Ron leaves them behind to go the beach, Pete is determined he and Fred can find their way there on their own. Pete spots a postal truck and quickly hops a ride with Fred scrambling right behind him. This is just the first of several rides they hitch until they finally start to smell the sea air and know they are getting close to the beach. The illustrations are a combination of photos and paint which make these characters really come alive and steal your heart.

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown Reading level: Kindergarten-Grade1 When Lucy first sees Squeaker in the forest, she can’t wait to get him home and ask her Mom if she can keep him. While Lucy and Squeaker have a lot of fun, Lucy also learns that having a pet is a lot of work. Squeaker can be messy, destructive and ill-behaved. When Squeaker disappears one day. When she finally finds him, she learns that some animals just aren’t meant to be pets. Peter Brown creatively explores the responsibilities of pet ownership including suitability, training and empathy in this tale of Lucy the Bear. This is a good book for generating discussions on the needs of pets, the responsibilities of a pet caregiver and why some animals are better suited as pets than others.

Go Home! by Libby Phillips Meggs Reading level: Grades K-3 Go Home! is the true story of an abandoned cat surviving on his own, though he yearns for a home. He has some recollection of being a household pet but, for the past year or so, he has been forced to scavenge and find place to sleep. When he first encounters a friendly family, they mistakenly think he has a home because he is wearing a collar – albeit much too tight – and tell him to go home. He survives a few seasons on his own until, one night, he is attacked by a dog. The same family recognizes him as he wanders out from under their shed, injured and thin. They take him to the vet, put up posters and eventually welcome him into their home where he gets all of the love and comforts he so long desired. Use this book to spark a discussion on keeping cats indoors and pet ID.

Before You Were Mine by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by David Walker Reading level: Grade K-2 Before You Were Mine follows a young boy as he speculates on his adopted dog’s previous life. He imagines that his lovable companion’s last guardians had to move and couldn’t take their dog with them, or left him tied up on a chain outside, or didn’t look for him when he was lost. After all his speculation, the boy remembers finding his dog at the animal shelter – and thinks that it doesn’t matter what happened in the past, because now his friend has a loving, permanent home. Before You Were Mine is a touching tale that asks many of the questions people have when adopting a stray animal from the shelter – and could lead to further questions during classroom discussion. Along with the story’s gentle encouragement of pet adoption, the book includes an afterward by the author which outlines some of the reasons why adopting an older pet can bring great joy to both the animal and the guardian.



“Let’s Get a Pup!” said Kate by Bob Graham Reading level: Grades K-2 Karen and her parents are ready to welcome a dog into their family. But what kind of dog will they get? This story follows the family on their visit to The Rescue Center. Which dog will they choose? A big dog? A small dog? A sniffer or sleeper? A cute, brand-new pup named Dave or an old, gray dog named Rosy? “Let’s Get a Pup!” said Kate is a sweet book that illustrates the debate many animal lovers face when visiting a shelter: What do we do when we want to give them all a home? How do we choose between the boisterous puppy and the senior dog who radiates good intention? And once that choice is made, how is each family member’s life improved by the presence of an animal?

Unknown by Colin Thompson Reading level: Grades K-3 Unknown is the story of an unlikely hero – a shelter dog called, for lack of a name, Unknown. Though she’s always blended into the shadows of her kennel, when a fire threatens her and her fellow shelter residents, this normally nervous little dog takes action. Along with culminating in an action-packed rescue, this story takes time to illustrate the many types of dogs who find themselves, for reasons beyond their control, without a permanent home. Each character is named after his or her circumstance, such as Owner-Gone-Abroad or Unwanted-Christmas-Gift. Read in the classroom, this book provides excellent opportunity for discussion around the ways animals arrive at shelters. It can also serve as a springboard to lessons about responsible pet guardianship and why every animal deserves a chance. Unknown serves as a reminder that all shelter dogs are special.

Ginger finds a home by Charlotte Voake Reading level: Preschool to grade 2 In Ginger finds a home, the author paints a heart-wrenching picture of a scraggly little cat who lives in a patch of weeds and spends his days searching for scraps of food and drinking out of puddles – that is, until a compassionate little girl takes it upon herself to give him a better life. Using simple watercolour and ink illustrations, Ginger finds a home is the prequel to an earlier book by the same author, simply titled Ginger, in which the title cat is faced with a new feline addition to his home. Ginger finds a home may lead to discussions about the lives of homeless cats and how young people can contribute to fixing the problem, even if they are unable to take in strays.

Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas Reading Level: Grades 1+ (best read with an adult for younger children) Saying Goodbye to Lulu follows a young girl who comes to realize her childhood dog Lulu is very old and will soon pass away. She recounts the good times the pair spent together and goes through an emotional journey from distress to acceptance once Lulu passes. Author Corinne Demas handles pet bereavement in a sensitive and realistic way.



Desser, the Best Ever Cat by Maggie Smith Reading level: Grades K-3 Desser, the Best Ever Cat is a story about the relationship that a young girl has with her cat as she grows. It is written from a child’s perspective and illustrates the care and respect that evolves in a good human-animal relationship. The story deals with the death of Desser in a very gentle, realistic way that portrays the grief one feels as well as the acceptance and ability to move on to give another animal a loving home.

Call the Horse Lucky by Juanita Havill and Nancy Lane Reading level: Grades 1-3 Call the Horse Lucky, is the heartwarming story of a girl named Mel who notices a sick and neglected horse. She takes action by telling her grandmother, who in turn contacts the local humane society. When the horse is taken to a rescue ranch, Mel decides to name him Lucky. And later, when Lucky goes to live at a horse therapy ranch, Mel learns that while she realistically cannot keep him as her pet, she can still help him by becoming a volunteer. Filled with positive messages about animal care and soft watercolour illustrations that perfectly portray the feelings of both humans and horses, and including an afterward with practical information on how to help horses, Call the Horse Lucky is a wonderful book for primary-grade readers.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst Reading level: Grades 1-3 Grieving over the death of a pet is often a child’s first experience with loss. In The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, Judith Viorst takes a gentle but realistic approach to death. She captures the emotions and many of the questions children might have after losing a pet. At a funeral held for Barney, the family cat, the family sings a song and shares good things about him. The child only shares nine good things about Barney but discovers the tenth good thing after he helps his dad plant seeds in the garden.

The Boy Who Loved All Living Things by Sheila Hamanaka Reading level: Grades 2-4 The Boy Who Loved All Living Things is an imagined childhood journal inspired by events in the young life of Albert Schweitzer. Ashamed of some of his own cruel actions towards animals and those of others, Albert reflects, realizes why he acted out and goes out of his way to protect animals that his friends want to harm. In doing so, Albert gains confidence in himself and his beliefs and becomes an animal advocate. He writes, “I do not care anymore what people think about me. I know deep inside who I am.” The Boy Who Loved All Living Things teaches children to view animals as friends that should be treated with compassion and respect, and to stand up for what they know is right. The illustrations and font depict a time long ago but the message is timeless. 10


Joy of Bears by Sylvia Dolson Reading level: Grades 3+ A book by British Columbia’s Get Bear Smart Society Executive Director Sylvia Dolson, Joy of Bears is a stunning collection of photographs of bears in their natural habitat alongside inspirational quotes about respect for these magnificent creatures and compassion towards all animals. Readers of all ages will enjoy taking time to pore over Joy of Bears’ images of black bears, grizzlies and polar bears – and to ponder thought-provoking words from individuals such as Aristotle, Jane Goodall, the Dalai Lama and the author herself. This beautiful book is a love letter to bears in particular, and to nature in general.

Guinea Pigs Don’t Read Books by Colleen Stanley Bare Reading level: Grades K-1 This is a good book to introduce young children to the guinea pig. It reinforces the idea that these small animals are not toys and shouldn’t be dressed up but they can be gentle, calm animals that can be a great companion if treated kindly. The pictures are of real guinea pigs and are very cute. So cute, in fact, you may be tempted to adopt one.

Second Chance: A Tale of Two Puppies by Judy Masrud Reading level: Grades 3 - 5 Second Chance tells the parallel stories of two dogs from the same litter who end up in very different homes. Andrew and Matt, boys from separate families, both want a dog. Before Andrew’s parents allow him to adopt a puppy, he proves that he is ready for the responsibility by dog walking and dog sitting for neighbours. Matt, on the other hand, learns nothing about caring for or training a dog before adopting; his parents simply give in to his pleading for a pet. Over the next year, Andrew trains his dog, Boomer, using positive reinforcement for good behaviour. Matt sends mixed signals to his dog, Chance, by encouraging bad behaviour at certain times, then scolding it later; Chance becomes confused and Matt begins to see him as a “bad” dog. Featuring useful training tips interspersed with the narrative, Second Chance is a terrific book for anyone thinking about getting a pet in general, and a puppy in particular.

Belle’s Journey by Marilynn Reynolds Reading level: Grades 1-3 The only job Belle does is carry Molly back and forth from her piano lessons once a week. When Father considers getting a new horse, Molly is excited at the thought of a young horse. Then one winter day on the way home from piano lessons, Belle and Molly are caught in a blizzard. Molly is frightened but Belle ploughs on until she brings Molly safely home. After this heroic deed, Father never talks about selling Belle again.



Angel in a Dog Suit by Mary Giuffre Reading level: Grade 3-5 Created in support of the Ontario SPCA’s budding humane education program for grade schools, Angel in a Dog Suit tells the story of Ruby, a dog rescued from a puppy mill. Told in rhyme, this ultimately uplifting tale follows Ruby through her first six years in a cage, to her rescue and time at the animal shelter, followed by her adoption and adjustment to her new home, family and life. Based on a true story, Angel in a Dog Suit is careful not to oversimplify the journey of a dog who spends half a dozen years suffering and is then introduced to a more humane life. While her circumstances have improved, Ruby is still unsure of life outside of a cage. As the story progresses, we see how her new guardians’ love and patience helps Ruby come out of her shell. While it is important to recognize that not all dogs rescued from puppy mills or other abusive situations may thrive as fully or as quickly as Ruby, this particular account gives readers a sense of how it is possible for an animal to overcome adversity with the right care.