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Celebrate "Be Kind to Animals Week" With New Books

Celebrate Be Kind to Animals Week (May 2-8) with these new titles. A new series of easy-reader chapter books exposes kids to the veterinary profession and to animal issues. And a new oversized book, a veritable "dog-opedia," makes great library -- even coffee table -- material!

Each year, the folks at the American Humane Society celebrate Be Kind to Animals Week by awarding prizes to kids who are kind to animals... If fictional kids were allowed to win the $5,000 scholarship, nine-year-old Stella Sullivan would surely take home the prize! Stella loves animals, from cuddly kittens to the wild inhabitants of Goldenrock National Park. And, lucky for Stella, her aunt is a veterinarian and her mother works for the parks department. So, it seems, caring for animals is in Stella's blood. It's also the central theme in a new series of easy-to-read chapter books from Avon Camelot.

Written for children ages 8 to 12, the Animal Emergency series offers a ready source of independent reading materials for kids who are interested in animals. Kids -- especially girls -- will relate to Stella, who shows signs of insecurity but who always manages to rise to the occasion and get the job done. Take, for example, the day she runs into her friend Pete and his younger sister, Maggie...

Maggie is in tears. An upset Pete holds a box with their cat, Missy, in it. Missy has been in labor for hours, but she seems to be giving up because the first kitten wants to enter the world in reverse. Heck of a time for Aunt Anya to be out of the office! But a quick call locates Anya, who gives Stella the confidence -- and the over-the-phone directions -- to save the day.

Abandoned Puppy Book Cover As Abandoned Puppy opens, Stella is about to become a dog owner. At Aunt Anya's insistence, she has studies dogs of all kinds. (Such a big decision is not one to be rushed!) Stella and Anya are on the way to pick up her wolfhound pup -- until Anya is summoned to handle a couple veterinary emergencies! Through it all, Stella is there, taking in her aunt's actions, helping where she can, and learning some important lessons about nature and animals, about people's cruelty to animals, about herself, and about life.

Abandoned Puppy is one of two Animal Emergency titles. In the other, Ducks in Danger, Stella comes to the aid of a wounded duckling, a tarantula, a spirited mother otter, and a guide dog that was in an automobile accident. Costello has two new titles in the works; both Bad Luck Lion and Runaway Wolves are due out later this year.

Abandoned Puppy has several story lines that diverge and then meet. Primary among those story lines is a debate raging in Stella's community (the fictional Gateway, Montana). Should wolves be reintroduced to Goldenrock National Park? is the question that's tearing apart the community, including Stella and her best friend, Josie. In the end, however, Stella and Josie come to realize that friendship can exist in spite of differences.

In addition to life lessons, readers will find many be-kind-to-animals messages in Costello's stories, as well as many interesting facts about animals. Never heavy-handed, the lessons are clear and there for the taking.

If you're a teacher or school librarian looking for independent reading materials for your students, especially for students who need some added motivation to pick up longer chapter books, Emily Costello's Animal Emergency series is sure to fill the need. What kid can resist a good animal story? Best of all, your students will be learning as they read.

Abandoned Puppy might make an excellent classroom read-aloud too. Chapter breaks are strategically placed to leave listeners wanting for more. And, after reading, you might even stage a classroom debate about the reintroduction of wolves. The story presents two distinct points of view, and students might do some research on their own to find additional points in support of each argument.


Dog Book Cover

Last year, author Amanda O'Neill offered Cats. This year, she's gone to the dogs! Dogs (Larousse Kingfisher Chambers) would make an excellent addition to any classroom or school library.

The over-sized Dogs is more a "history" of man's best friend than it is a "how-to" for pet owners. Hundreds of clear, stunning illustrations bring dogs to life. Sections of the book focus on:

  • The evolution and history of dogs. A timeline traces the roots of modern-day dogs back to Miacis, a weasel-like beast that roamed earth 55 million years ago. The use of dogs as domesticated animals is traced back to about 10 000 B.C., when humans first used them for protection -- and as garbage disposals!

  • The bodies of dogs. Fur, tails, ears, the senses... they're all explored in this section of Dogs. Did you know that a German Shepherd's nose has 220 million scent cells in it, while a human's nose has about 5 million? Learn more amazing facts about man's best friend in this section of the book!

  • Dogs in mythology. Did you know that a dog's cold, wet nose can be traced back to Noah's ark? So legend has it! And so you'll learn in Dogs. Did you know that the appearance in the sky of Sirius, the "Dog Star," served as a yearly warning to ancient Egyptians that the Nile River would soon flood and that it was time to move to higher ground? O'Neill also explores dogs in literature, art, and on TV in this section of her book.

In addition, special sections are devoted to exploring different kinds of dogs and to the proper care of dogs. A glossary of famous dogs in history is included too.

If you're looking for the poop on dogs, Amanda O'Neill's new book is a veritable dog-opedia!

The books highlighted above are available in bookstores. If you are unable to locate any of the books, ask your local bookseller to order them for you, or contact the publisher:

  • Abandoned Puppy and the other books in the Animal Emergency series are written by Emily Costello and published by Avon Books, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.

  • Dogs, written by Amanda O'Neill, is published by Larousse Kingfisher Chambers, 95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016.
  • For more information about the Be Kind To Animals Kid Contest, see the official rules on the American Humane Society Web site.

    Article by Gary Hopkins
    Education World® Editor-in-Chief
    Copyright © 1999 Education World

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