What would our lives be like without animals?

     I’m yet again revising my MG novel, Emily’s Ride to Courage, so I thought I’d do a blog on books that have animals being key to the plot. I’m fond of most animals, though yappy little dogs are not my favorites and I’m not sure I’d care to cuddle with a reptile. Some little dogs are not yappy and consider themselves to be worthy companions. My husband and I owned a horse farm for 20 some years which gave me a chance to observe snakes. I marvel at their agility and can even see the beauty in their markings. It’s amazing to watch snakes climb almost straight up a tree. So here are my entries for today. No snakes included, so don’t get all creeped out me and go high-stepping away, shaking your arms and squealing, “Eeewww!”


     Alison writes lots of horse books and has good knowledge of her subject. I enjoy reading her books. Did you read all the horse books you could get your hands on when you were young? Do you still read them? I did and I do. Any of you guys out there ride horses?


Alison Hart

      Jasmine Schuler is in foster care because she attacked Hugh Robicheaux with a hoof pick. But Robicheaux had just accused Jas’ grandfather of killing Whirlwind, a valuable mare, by giving her yew to munch on. Her grandfather suffers a heart attack, leaving Jasmine nowhere to go. And Jasmine is sure of the truth—Hugh is the culprit. She is relieved to discover that Whirlwind is not dead; that a look-a-like, but less valuable horse, was poisoned instead; for the insurance money. At first Jas is not keen on being in foster care, but when she ends up at horse rescue farm run by the no-nonsense Miss Hahn, things begin to look up. She still has to wear a tracking anklet because she attacked her nemesis, but she does have some freedom. The insurance company decides to prosecute the evil Robicheaux and needs Jasmine’s help in finding the real Whirlwind. Plus, the good looking Chase seems to have an interest in her and her problems. The book, a sequel to Shadow Horse, is fast paced with death threats and intrigue, plus a little romance thrown in for good measure. Horse lovers will enjoy all the horse talk and other readers will enjoy the mystery and romance.

BIBLIO: 2010, Laurel-Leaf/Random House Children’s Books/Random House, Ages 12 +, $7.99

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-375-86005-8  


     Cats are frequently not treated with the same respect as dogs. Perhaps it’s because our feline friends can be more standoffish than our canine friends. But I had a cat when I lived in Brasil, who put her new born kittens on my chest, so I could keep them warm. The ultimate gesture of trust as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, the kittens were still born, but that moment has stuck with me for more than 40 years. Do you have a favorite animal memory?

A Cat like That

Wendy Wahman

Illustrated by Wendy Wahman

      An elegant, whimsical cat happily teaches young people how to be his best friend. Play games that let Mr. Cat jump and pounce and claw and hide. Yelling at him won’t make Cat your friend. But stroking him softly from head to tail for a few times and under his chin or behind his ears will keep him purring. Especially scratching him at the base of his tail will bring him back for more. Mr. Cat’s best friend would never try to tickle his tummy; that’s what dogs are for. Cat does not like to be dropped, because he might not land on his feet. Nor will he be your best friend if you drag him from here to there. The illustrations perfectly set the stage in this wonderful book on how to treat a cat . The look of long-suffering displeasure as the poor cat is being dragged along is priceless. And the book is full of many helpful hints on how to get a cat to love you. A must for any household planning to include a cat.

BIBLIO: 2011, Henry Holt and Company, LLC, Ages 4 to 8, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8942-4


     I love reading or hearing folk stories from other cultures, don’t you? Learning about other customs and languages just makes my day. It’s such a wide world, in some ways, with so many different ways to tell the same things; reading about other peoples just enhances life for all of us.

Busy-Busy Little Chick

Janice N. Harrington

Illustrated by Brian Pinkney

      This is a charming retelling of a Central African story with lots of African words and sounds sprinkled throughout the narrative. Mr. Pinkney’s simple, but enchanting, illustrations set the story off beautifully. Mama Nsoso loves her chicks very much and knows she should make a better nest, ilombe, for them so they won’t have cold, wet bottoms at night. She promises each night that she will make a better nest, but the following day she gets distracted. Day by day, tee-tee-tee, busy-busy Little Chick gathers the grass and twigs and leaves and mud until he has enough to make a new nest. One with smooth mud sides to keep the wind out. One with a grass roof to keep the rain out. One with a nest made of clean, fresh leaves to keep the chicks warm and safe. Mama Nsoso pruck, pruck, prucks with pride for Little Chick, but he doesn’t even care. He’s too busy chasing cricky-cracky crickets. The special words are from the Nkundo people who speak Lonkundo and are very descriptive of the actions mentioned. Children and their parents will enjoy reading this book again and again.

BIBLIO: 2013, Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, Ages 3 to 5, $15.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-0-374-34746-8

One thought on “What would our lives be like without animals?

  1. I liked the variety of animal books you reviewed. I agree that the book about cats would be good to read prior to taking in a kitten. Definitely different from a dog. Good luck with your novel revision, Sarah.

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