Perfect Pets & More: Domestic Animals | Series Made Simple Fall 2014

Books on pet care are always popular, and this year is no exception. Early readers will find plenty to pore over, admire, and read in this fall’s collections

The recent emphasis on nonfiction, partly the result of the introduction of the Common Core State Standards, is having the appreciated effect of more books for beginning and early readers, a trend that the youngest bibliophiles will appreciate. That development is very apparent in this season’s group of animal books, an area with broad and consistent appeal. While these new entries offer a variety of topics, overall the selections have a heavy emphasis on pets and responsible pet ownership. Choosing a pet wisely, considering their needs carefully, and adopting, preferably from an animal shelter, are common threads throughout. Mutts are overlooked, while special breeds, some recent and other old stand-bys, remain in the spotlight. And, of course, the requisite selection of life cycle books is also here. Early readers will find plenty to pore over, admire, and read in this fall’s collections.

Preschool to Grade 4

Barnes, Nico. Bulldogs. ISBN 9781 629700298; ISBN 9781629701271.

––––. German Shepherds. ISBN 9781 629700304; ISBN 9781629701288.

––––. Golden Retrievers. ISBN 9781 629700311; ISBN 9781629701295.

––––. Jack Russell Terriers. ISBN 9781 629700328; ISBN 9781629701301.

––––. Labrador Retrievers. ISBN 9781 629700335; ISBN 9781629701318.

––––. Pugs. ISBN 9781629700342; ISBN 9781629701325.

ea vol: 24p. (Dogs). glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. 2014. lib. ed. $28.50. ebk. $28.50.

PreS-Gr 2 –The slight content in these titles includes appearance, behavior, care, and compatibility. The majority of the spreads are devoted to bright, clear dog photos (most emphasizing faces). The pictures support the text for the most part. A list of three additional facts is appended but occasionally overlaps the main text. End matter includes a special code for a newly developed website with crafts, games, a short video, more photos, and carefully chosen websites. Though the material is sparse, the simple sentences, appealing images, and large format will make these a hit.

Clendening, John. Animal Control Offices. ISBN 9781477770191.

––––. Animal Shelters. ISBN 9781 477770115.

––––. Veterinary Hospitals. ISBN 978147 7770238.

––––. Wildlife Preserves. ISBN 9781477 770153.

ea vol: 32p. (Animal Rescue). glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. 2014. lib. ed. $25.25.

Gr 3-6 –The information found in these introductions to animal-related services and occupations highlights the purpose of each resource, as well as its history, current status, and future. Volunteering, adoption, and sterilization (including material on spaying and neutering) are emphasized in Animal Control Offices and Animal Shelters. Euthanasia is explained gently when appropriate, although in Animal Shelters, the information gets confusing. For instance, specific numbers are provided, but the book also says that accurate data isn’t kept. The oversize text flows around photos, captions, and insets displayed against an eggshell blue background. The photos are large and generous but too often lack a clear connection to the text. Editing problems are scattered throughout. There aren’t a lot of other books on these topics, but the issues with the photos, captions, and writing make them less than ideal.

Dash, Meredith. Calico Cats. ISBN 9781629700083; ISBN 9781629701066.

––––. Maine Coon Cats. ISBN 9781629700090; ISBN 9781629701073.

––––. Manx Cats. ISBN 9781629700106; ISBN 9781629701080.

––––. Persian Cats. ISBN 9781629700113; ISBN 9781629701097.

––––. Scottish Fold Cats. ISBN 9781629700120; ISBN 9781629701103.

––––. Siamese Cats. ISBN 9781629700137; ISBN 9781629701110.

ea vol: 24p. (Cats). glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. 2014. lib. ed. $28.50. ebk. $28.50.

PreS-Gr 2 –Short sentences and large print describe the characteristics of various breeds (other than the book about calicos, which are not a breed), such as their personality, care, and value as a pet. A few minor conflicts mar certain titles: Maine Coon Cats asserts that only Maine has a state cat, while Calico Cats states that calicos are the state cat of Maryland. Siamese Cats describes the breed as “good with children and other animals,” but the back matter states that these cats “tend to be jealous. They would not be happy if you brought home another animal.” The close-up of a cat’s face on the cover gives it instant kid appeal, while the interior photos, which dominate the spreads, do a fine job of supporting the text. Minor problems aside, these are worth consideration.

Edison, Erin. You’ll Love Chiweenies. ISBN 9781491405673.

––––. You’ll Love Chorkies. ISBN 9781 491405680.

––––. You’ll Love Cockapoos. ISBN 9781 491405697.

––––. You’ll Love Labradoodles. ISBN 9781 491405703.

––––. You’ll Love Morkies. ISBN 9781491405710.

––––. You’ll Love Puggles. ISBN 9781 491405727.

ea vol: 24p. (Favorite Designer Dogs). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. 2014. lib. ed. $24.65.

PreS-Gr 2 –These standard early readers tackle designer dog breeds. The text is sparse, with three or four large-font sentences per spread. The breed is introduced along with its heritage, physical characteristics, life expectancy, and simple care requirements, such as feeding and grooming. Each book closes by explaining a quality that makes the dog a worthy pet (for instance, “Chiweenies are loyal pets.”). Titles follow a nearly identical format. Photos are mostly close-up, full-page shots of the dogs, and humans are shown occasionally, though the books offer little size reference, even when the dog’s size is emphasized. The popularity of these miniscule dogs and these titles’ easy reading features make this set of interest; it will round out pet and animal collections.

Guillain, Charlotte. Life Story of a Butterfly. ISBN 9781484604878.

––––. Life Story of a Frog. ISBN 9781 484604892.

––––. Life Story of a Ladybug. ISBN 9781 484604885.

––––. Life Story of a Salamander. ISBN 9781 484604908.

ea vol: 32p. (Animal Life Stories). bibliog. glossary. index. photos. websites. Heinemann-Raintree. 2014. lib. ed. $26.65.

Gr 2-4 –This series thoroughly describes and visually portrays the life cycles of these creatures. The books all follow the same pattern, introducing the animal and the life cycle concept before covering the metamorphic stages, adulthood, mating, and, finally, beginning the cycle all over again. Habitats, predators, and diet are introduced. Though the titles attempt to generalize, Butterfly uses the Monarch in most examples and mentions other butterflies only occasionally. Frog and Salamander show a variety of species, but Ladybug fails to mention that it portrays more than one species. Appropriate scientific vocabulary is used, including referring to the tadpole as a frog’s larva. The titles end with a photo-flowchart illustrating the entire process. Pictures are close-up and vivid. Compare Frog to Frog, from Creative Education’s “Grow with Me” series (2013) or Frog (2003) from DK’s “Watch Me Grow” series. The Life Cycle of a Ladybug (Bellwether, 2010) is a close match to Ladybug. These titles will fit nicely into most science curriculums.

Higgins, Melissa. Sgt. Reckless the War Horse: Korean War Hero. illus. by Álvaro Iglesias. ISBN 9781479554621.

Hoena, Blake. Stubby the Dog Soldier: World War I Hero. illus. by Oliver Hurst. ISBN 9781479554614.

Loewen, Nancy. Scarlett the Cat to the Rescue: Fire Hero. illus. by Kristin Sorra. ISBN 9781479554645.

Wittrock, Jeni. Laika the Space Dog: First Hero in Outer Space. illus. by Shannon Toth. ISBN 9781479554638.

ea vol: 32p. (Animal Heroes). further reading. glossary. illus. Picture Window. 2014. lib. ed. $27.99.

Gr 2-5 –These picture books retell the stories of famous animals. Sgt. Reckless and Stubby were war heroes, while Laika was the first creature to be sent into outer space, and Scarlett rescued her kittens from a burning building. Only Laika portrays a title animal who did not survive the call to duty—but does so gently and honestly. An “Afterword” in each title provides a photo and update on what happened after the main events, except for Scarlett, which describes the aftermath of her rescue in the main text. Illustrations vary across titles. Most are realistic, although the cartoon faces of the people in Sgt. Reckless are jarring compared with the realistic treatment of the horse. The quality of the back matter is inconsistent. Collections that already have Hero Cat (Two Lions, 2011) won’t need Scarlett, and the slightly more advanced Stubby the War Dog (National Geographic, 2014) may trump Stubby. Larger libraries or those in need of more titles on heroic animals may find this series of use.

Johnson, Jinny. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. ISBN 9781625881762. LC 2014003941.

––––. Collie. ISBN 9781625881724. LC 2014003957.

––––. Dachshund. ISBN 9781625881731.

––––. Doberman Pinscher. ISBN 9781625881748. LC 2014003958.

––––. Great Dane. ISBN 9781625881755. LC 2014003959.

––––. Miniature Schnauzer. ISBN 9781625881779. LC 2014003960.

––––. Rottweiler. ISBN 9781625881786. LC 2014003961.

––––. Siberian Husky. ISBN 9781625881793.

ea vol: 24p. (My Favorite Dogs). glossary. index. photos. Black Rabbit/Smart Apple Media. 2014. lib. ed. $27.10.

Gr 2-4 –These books include straightforward information, such as the positive and negative qualities of each dog, and emphasize the commitment needed to be a good pet owner. An “All About” chapter gives historical and general temperament information. Training, health, and work issues are discussed. The books close with chapters on “Caring for Your [Dog]”. The close-up dog portraits against white backgrounds on the cover will endear. An introductory, full-body profile photo of the dog is labeled and contains size ranges and coat colors, although Cavalier and Miniature lack weight stats. The pages include a range of action, still, and close-up shots of the dog type. Various pastel backgrounds are used where photos don’t take up the entire page. Extra large text makes these useful for early and struggling readers, although the lack of white space results in a crowded design. These are adequate offerings for collections seeking additional pet materials.

Laughlin, Kara L. Bomb-Sniffing Dogs. ISBN 9781626873087.

––––. Guide Dogs. ISBN 9781626873094.

––––. Police Dogs. ISBN 9781626873100.

––––. Search-and-Rescue Dogs. ISBN 9781 626873117.

––––. Seizure-Alert Dogs. ISBN 9781 626873124.

––––. Therapy Dogs. ISBN 9781626873131.

ea vol: 24p. (Service Dogs). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. The Child’s World. 2014. lib. ed. $27.07.

Gr 3-5 –This collection covers the basics of working dogs, including history of these types of jobs, the ideal breeds and temperaments for the work, the training involved, and how children behave when meeting these dogs. Other than Guide Dogs, the books conclude with a specific example of a particularly heroic or noteworthy canine. The writing is engaging, explaining the training technique used. An “Interesting Fact” box is included on every page, and there is an abundance of attractive, captioned photos. There are a few flaws; for instance, there’s a typo in Search-and-Rescue Dogs, and Seizure-Alert Dogs mentions that those prone to seizures need time to get ready but doesn’t explain what that preparation entails. These charming titles will serve their purpose well.

Mara, Wil. Blue Jays. ISBN 9781627128346.

––––. Cardinals. ISBN 9781627128223.

––––. Robins. ISBN 9781627128254.

––––. Woodpeckers. ISBN 9781627128377.

Otfinoski, Steven. Crows. ISBN 9781627128315.

––––. Hummingbirds. ISBN 9781627128285.

ea vol: 32p. (Backyard Safari). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. 2014. lib. ed. $28.50.

Gr 2-5 –This series mixes hands-on bird-watching information with species details. The books share basic information about each bird, send readers out to look for birds, and suggest projects, such as birdhouse-building and imitating bird calls, that will encourage more encounters with our feathered friends. Full pages of single-column text are broken up with small, vivid photos and “Trek Talk” and “Safari Tip” insets. Bulleted lists of what to wear and bring on a safari as well as supplies and steps for the activities are incorporated. Readers are instructed to journal and photograph their work as well. The titles by Mara contain advice on what todo when encountering a sick bird. One slight error in the conversion between ounces and kilograms mars Woodpeckers. The nice integration of bird-watching information sets these noteworthy titles apart.

Meister, Cari. Birds. ISBN 9781620311202. LC 2013042367.

––––. Cats. ISBN 9781620311219. LC 2013042368.

––––. Dogs. ISBN 9781620311226. LC 2013042369.

––––. Fish. ISBN 9781620311233. LC 2013044259.

––––. Guinea Pigs. ISBN 9781620311271. LC 2013045660.

––––. Hamsters. ISBN 9781620311240. LC 2013042370.

––––. Rabbits. ISBN 9781620311257. LC 2013045663.

––––. Turtles. ISBN 9781620311264. LC 2013049160.

ea vol: 24p. (My First Pet). ebook available. glossary. index. photos. Jump! 2014. lib. ed. $25.65.

PreS-Gr 2 –These bright, slight, upbeat introductions to pet ownership are designed for early readers. Basic information is shared through a collection of vignettes. The text, never more than four brief sentences per spread, always gives a name to the pet in the photo and the child, who may not always be shown. The vocabulary is simple but doesn’t avoid technical terms such as cuttlebone or nocturnal. This clever personalization of the carefully chosen stock photos adds interest. “Ideas for Parents and Teachers” on the verso page offers before, during, and after reading tips. The concluding page “What Does a ____ Need?” covers the basic pet ownership supplies with brightly labeled photos. The close-up cover images, silhouetted against white and banded in a bright color, will draw animal lovers in. Great selections to round out your pet collection.

Ringstad, Arnold. True Stories of Animal Antics. ISBN 9781626873568.

––––. True Stories of Animal Friends. ISBN 9781626873575.

––––. True Stories of Animal Heroes. ISBN 9781626873582.

––––. True Stories of Animal Oddities. ISBN 9781626873599.

––––. True Stories of Animal Tricks and Talents. ISBN 9781626873605.

––––. True Stories of Animals at Work. ISBN 9781626873612.

ea vol: 24p. (True Animal Stories). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. The Child’s World. 2014. lib. ed. $28.50.

Gr 2-4 –Each of these title includes nine narratives about unusual animal events. The lesser-known stories, such as a bike-riding dog (Animal Tricks and Talents) and a water-squirting octopus (Animal Antics), are mixed with more widely known tales, such as the friendship between a Owen, a hippo, and Mzee, a tortoise (Animal Friends) and Koko, the gorilla who learned sign language (Animal Tricks and Talents). Other accounts, such as “The Frog and the Dragonfly” (Animal Friends) and “The Dancing Bear” (Animal Antics) are the result of the photographer’s anthropomorphic imagination and a serendipitous encounter with an unsuspecting animal. The treatment is more matter-of-fact than Picture Window’s “Animal Heroes” series, though there is some overlap (such as Scarlet the cat and Sergeant Reckless). This series will be appreciated by practicing readers, who will be spurred on further research and the “Chapters” series (National Geographic Kids). Fun books with strong kid appeal.

Rustad, Martha E.H. Dogs. ISBN 9781 491407912.

––––. Insects. ISBN 9781491407929.

ea vol: 32p. (Little Explorer). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. 2014. lib. ed. $27.32.

K-Gr 2 –These titles provide a broad overview of their respective topics. The books take a brief look at ancient insects and dogs, life cycles, senses, and general types or breeds. Dogs sorts breeds into nine categories, including “Mixed Breeds,” while Insects covers eight of the most common types of insects. Dogs focuses on jobs, sports, famous examples of, and, of course, dogs as pets. Insects discusses metamorphosis and contains a concluding “Insects and Humans” spread with some benefits and disadvantages of insects to humans. The writing is simple and upbeat. Insects gets poetic (“Bees buzz”; “Beetles battle.”) when introducing the types. Occasional insets add high interest information. Excellent photos, many close-up, fill the pages. Insects in particular uses labels and charts effectively. These will be popular with browsers and for classroom use.

Thomas, Isabel. Beaky’s Guide to Caring for Your Bird. ISBN 9781484602591.

––––. Giggle’s Guide to Caring for Your Gerbils. ISBN 9781484602607.

––––. Gordon’s Guide to Caring for Your Guinea Pigs. ISBN 9781484602614.

––––. Henrietta’s Guide to Caring for Your Chickens. ISBN 9781484602621.

––––. Slinky’s Guide to Caring for Your Snake. ISBN 9781484602638.

––––. Squeak’s Guide to Caring for Your Pet Rats or Mice. ISBN 9781484602645.

ea vol: 32p. (Pets’ Guides). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Heinemann-Raintree. 2014. lib. ed. $26.65.

Gr 1-4 –These simple guides to pet care cover feeding, cleaning, housing, handling, and grooming, as well as vacation and health care. Written from the pet’s perspective, the books lead readers through the pet ownership process, offering guidance through sentences that often begin with “Don’t forget…” and “Before you….” Positive features are balanced with concerns about care and behavior. A cautionary note on the many responsibilities that come with pet ownership is included. Animal shelters and rescue centers are recommended in the “Choosing Your (Animal name here)” chapter. Illustrations are a combination of lighthearted, if lackluster, cartoon artwork and include footprints of the pet in question that lead kids from page to page and photos with somewhat jarring pieces of masking tape superimposed along their edges. Lists of facts and tips conclude each book. Useful and child-friendly introductions to pet ownership.

Dog and cat books are perennial favorites, and the reading levels will be the important consideration. Child’s World’s “Service Dogs” is comparable to “Dogs to the Rescue!” (Bellwether, 2014), so mix and match. If you have “Get a Pet” (Picture Window, 2009), you can bypass “Pets’ Guides.” Other than Turtles, with its confusing jumble of species, feel confident picking any of the other “My First Pet” (Jump!) books. If you can’t afford both “Little Explorer” (Capstone) books, go for Insects. The synthesis of information in the charts makes this a standout for introducing features of nonfiction books. Pick and choose from Cavendish’s “Backyard Safari” according to your audience’s needs. The narrative approach used in Picture Window’s “Animal Heroes” give these read-aloud potential. In Child World’s “True Animal Stories,” Friends is the weakest and Animal Heroes covers familiar territory. Finally, if you don’t already have enough butterfly, frog, ladybug and salamander titles for young readers, Heinemann-Raintree’s “Animal Life Stories” books will be a nice addition to your collection.

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