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Series Spotlight: Peachy and Keen by Jason Tharp

The cat, Peachy, and the dog, Keen, are best friends. The series, Peachy and Keen, feature the two friends in stories of their school adventures at Happy Trails School.

In the first book, A School Tail (2018), Peachy wants to work on the school newspaper but discovers there is no longer a print newspaper. Peachy has the idea to replace the newspaper with an online magazine. With Keen's help, Peachy finds four classmates to work on the PURRFECT9: Rue, the high fashion kitty, Connie the octopus, Nanner the monkey, and Gertie the unicorn. Of course, they need a faculty sponsor and recruit Rocco the llama, who is the janitor. Principal Trunx, an elephant, is not helpful to Peachy but in the end… the PURRFECT9 staff wins him over.

These books by Jason Tharp are full of puns. To enjoy the stories, a reader will need to understand (and enjoy) puns. Even the title – Peachy Keen – is a pun.

Each book is 96 pages. There are full color, cartoon-style illustrations on each page and these add to the story and are fun in themselves. There is a significant amount of text, which makes the books look harder than they are. The Lexile is 590-770.



Pick of the Litter (2018)

In Pick of the Litter, follow a litter of five adorable Labrador puppies from birth through two years old on their incredible journey to become guide dogs for the blind.  The whole family will delight in seeing the lively puppies, each with their unique personalities, go through their rigorous training.  "Only the best will make the cut."

Experience the joy and sadness of the dedicated first time and experienced puppy raisers and trainers.  Meet the blind individuals who hope to be matched with a guide dog companion.

If you enjoy Pick of the Litter, you might also be interested in the Japanese film, Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog.  Here is additional information on the organization, Guide Dogs for the Blind, featured in the film.

The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker (2016)

For the inquisitive cat admirer, and cat disdainer alike, this book offers an entertaining look at the house cat’s story: from practically self-domesticating, to multiplying into staggering numbers worldwide, and winning our affection (true for most of us, that is). Abigail Tucker, the book’s author, is squarely in the cat lover camp, yet she’s forced to admit that cats don’t really have any practical use (this is the part cat haters will like).

Read The Lion in the Living Room to find out why cats may develop floppy ears and curly tails in the future; to discover the identity of the man who believes cats are “a tsunami of violence and death;” to learn why cat memes are considered by at least one meme researcher--that’s right, I said meme researcher—to be immortal; and to learn many more curious facts about our adorable pets.

Panda Cam: A Nation Watches Tai Shan the Panda Cub Grow (2006)

pandacamEnjoy close-up photos and read about Tai Shan, an adorable giant panda at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., from birth through seven months. Watch him grow from a blind, nearly hairless, helpless newborn into a black and white furred, curious, growing young panda. This short book with cute captions will delight adults and children alike. Some of the highlights of Panda Cam include interacting with his mother, rock climbing, and experiencing snow for the first time.

Tai Shan (peaceful mountain) was the first baby panda born at the zoo since efforts began in 1972 after President Nixon’s trip to China. The photos in this book are selections from a webcam set up in the Giant Panda Habitat to continually capture and monitor Tai Shan’s progress.

Tai Shan turned ten in July 2015. Watch his birthday celebration and other videos on youtube.

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony (2009)

elephantIn this compelling book, Lawrence Anthony is asked to take a troubled wild elephant herd into his wildlife reserve in Zululand, South Africa, or they will be killed. The Elephant Whisperer deals with elephants learning to trust a man and life on the reserve with his wife and dogs, including handling poachers and the Zulu people. Lawrence’s bond with the matriarch Nana is particularly touching, especially when she brings her newborn baby to meet him. His engaging and sometimes humorous stories of life with the elephants made me empathetic towards their plight.

The Elephant Whisperer will appeal to both animal lovers and adventure readers. The expressive narration by Simon Vance, a four time Audie Award winner, enhances the listening experience.

Sit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin (2015)

sitstayspeakNeeding a change, Addie decides to move from Chicago to the small town of Eunice, Arkansas, after inheriting her Aunt Tilda's house. Addie used to spend time each summer as a child with Tilda, but it's been many years since she visited. Addie's plan is to stay a few months to fix her aunt's house up so she can sell it.

However, after rescuing an abandoned dog she names Felix, becoming friends with Wanda Carter (who is the queen of sassy southern sayings), and falling for lawyer/farmer Jasper Floyd, she just might find it too hard to leave. Despite all this, Addie finds herself in trouble after she refuses ignore the fact that someone in Eunice is abusing dogs. Sit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin is a cozy first novel full of charm, romance and quirky characters.

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano (2012)

icouldpeeonthisDelight in to this amusing short book of poems from a cat’s point of view. The poems in I Could Pee on This really capture a cat’s quirky personality and behavior. Cute photos enhance enjoyment of Francesco Marciuliano’s book.

One poem I particularly liked:

“Busy, Busy”

It’s 8 a.m. and time to rest
It’s 10 a.m. and time to relax
It’s noon and time for repose
It’s 3 p.m. and time for shut-eye
It’s 6 p.m. and time for siesta
It’s 9 p.m. and time to slumber
It’s midnight and time to snooze
It’s 4 a.m. and time to hang upside down from your bedroom ceiling, screaming

Sergeant Stubby: How a Stray Dog and His Best Friend Helped Win World War I and Stole the Heart of a Nation by Ann Bausum (2014)

stubbySergeant Stubby appeals to both military history buffs and dog lovers. This remarkable story follows James Robert Conroy and his brave canine companion, Stubby, from their early days to the battlefields of France during World War I, to their homecoming as heroes and then retirement. The soldiers’ lives during wartime are contrasted with the bond between soldier and dog. Photographs of Conroy and Stubby enhance the book.

In 1917, Conroy enlisted in the Connecticut National Guard and his unit became part of the 26th (Yankee Division) of the U.S. Army. Stubby was a stray that showed up at training on Yale University’s athletic fields and favored Conroy. He learned how to follow along with the soldiers as they paraded on the athletic fields and even learned how to salute. Stubby was smuggled and stowed away on the ship taking Conroy’s unit to France. Supposedly after officers became aware of Stubby’s presence, Stubby charmed them and became the official mascot of the unit.

James Robert Conroy returned to the States as a hero and Stubby became a celebrity.

Ann Bausum’s book was released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of World War I. If you are interested in reading further about World War I see All Time Faves: Our Favorite books about World War I.

I, Toto: the autobiography of Terry, the dog who was Toto by Willard Carroll (2001)

Did you know that the cute cairn terrier that played Dorothy’s dog, Toto, in The Wizard of Oz performed in fourteen major motion pictures? This is a timely book to read since August 2014 is the 75th anniversary of the release of The Wizard of Oz movie (and check Bill’s review last month on other films of 1939). I, Toto, a charming book, is written from Terry’s point of view and is filled with photographs and newspaper clippings. Her first film was with Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes.

Other books about animal performers are Rin Tin Tin: the life and the legend by Susan Orleans and Zamba: the true story of the greatest lion that ever lived by Ralph Helfer.

 

I’m a Good Dog: Pit Bulls, America's Most Beautiful (and misunderstood) Pet by Kevin Foster (2012)

The book is a collection of stories about pit bulls and how they are misunderstood. I loved Kevin Foster’s I’m a Good Dog because it gave so many examples of how, if given the right/correct way to rehabilitate any dog, they can give back to their owner’s community.

Big Miracle (2012) PG

I loved Big Miracle, which tells the inspiring, heartwarming story about a family of whales trapped in the ice in Alaska in 1988 and the effort that was undertaken to try to save them. The world becomes aware of the whales’ plight when Adam (John Krasinski), a TV reporter in the small town of Barrow, Alaska, broadcasts the story for the local station. NBC has one minute forty seconds to fill and uses his story. Rachel (Drew Barrymore), a Greenpeace activist and Adam’s ex-girlfriend, was one of the first to arrive on the scene and really spearheaded the effort to rescue the whales. The native whale hunters, an oil company owner (Ted Danson), journalists, and state and U.S. government have to put aside their differences to try to rescue the whales.

Take time to watch the special feature, Truth is Stranger than Fiction, which features Cindy Lowry, the real-life Rachel, and some of the other people involved in the crisis. The movie is based on a book by Tom Rose.

For other animal films at the library, browse our list Movies Featuring the Animal Kingdom.

I Am Maru by Mugumogu (2011)

Maru is an adorable Scottish Fold cat living in Japan who became famous from a “The Sliding Box Cat” entry for a YouTube contest. The photos of Maru’s expressive face and round body in all sorts of creative positions are delightful. In addition to sliding into boxes, he loves jumping and squishing into trash cans, and peeking into bags. It is amazing to see him diving and pushing his chubby body through diet soda boxes.

Cute captions from Maru’s point of view increase the enjoyment of the photos. Maru was born on May 7, 2007, and went to live with the author on September 7, 2007. The book features Maru in the first two years of his life. The text is in English and Japanese.

In addition to reading I Am Maru by Mugumogu, it is a treat to see Maru in action on youtube –

http://youtu.be/kDolQlZWSmw

The French Cat by Rachael Hale (2011)

Delight in the photos of cats set against the backdrop of Paris and French villages. It is lovely to see a pampered cat in a grand chateau sitting regally on a brocade chair, cats walking along cobblestone streets surrounded by Old World architecture, strays roaming among the tombstones in Montmartre Cemetery, and a cat relaxing on a wrought iron balcony. While expecting a child, Rachael, an animal photographer, moved with her new husband from New Zealand to southwest France. It was interesting reading about her background and how she undertook this project including the effort involved in photographing the cats that required patience, teasers, and treats.

This book will appeal to cat lovers, Francophiles, and photography lovers.

Check the catalog for The French Cat by Rachael Hale.

Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom by Jennifer S. Holland (2011)

Have you ever heard of a dachshund nursing a piglet or a hippo and a tortoise lying side by side? This book features amazing stories of bonds between members of different species. Touching color photographs enhance the stories.

Jennifer Holland wonders “perhaps the need for a good friend is not just a human thing after all.” I especially enjoyed the story about Owen, a 600-pound baby hippo that survived a deadly tsunami in Kenya, and was put in a sanctuary with Mzee, a 130-year-old giant tortoise. Owen began learning tortoise ways, such as chewing on grass and being active during the day rather than the night. He licked Mzee’s face as the tortoise rested his head on Owen’s belly. At night they slept side by side, meaty torso against timeworn shell.

To see if this book is available check here and for more books by Jennifer S. Holland .

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (2008)
All animal lovers should read this book! It is narrated by Enzo, who is a dog. You may need a box of tissues, particularly at the end, but this is a lovely novel which explores the beauty of love and family relationships.

Check out the book trailer for Racing in the Rain below.