Elinor McGrath, Pet Doctor: The Story of America’s First Female Veterinarian

Beaming Bks. Mar. 2024. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781506492032.
Gr 4-6–The picture book biography of Elinor McGrath, who enrolled in veterinary school in 1907. As expected in this time period, McGrath faced discrimination, but persevered. Upon graduation, she became the first woman to open a veterinary practice in the United States. McGrath is depicted as resilient, pushing off slights, i.e., her name being misspelled in a veterinary journal. She was also resourceful, gearing her practice more toward domestic animals, as house pets such as dogs and cats became more common than farm animals in her era. Elegant watercolor illustrations nicely complement the occasionally wordy text. Environments are nicely detailed, people are expressive, and animals are lovingly depicted. In early scenes, McGrath is often accompanied by a mouse or a snail on her person. The animal companion appears so frequently in the book’s first pages that readers may expect a Richard Scarry-like Easter egg; however, its appearance becomes inconsistent as the story progresses. Rich back matter gives more information about McGrath and brief biographies of other female pioneers in veterinary medicine.
VERDICT Recommend this biography to young animal lovers; it’s a nice addition to the nonfiction shelves.

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