Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Book Review: The Book of Happy Cats (from the French)


The Book of Happy Cats, by Jacqueline Voulet (Simon and Schuster, 1976, 76 pages, $3.95)

The Book of Happy Cats is a first! The first book we have found in years that one cannot find on Amazon, perhaps because it was published in 1976 in French (but by Simon and Schuster).

We picked up this short book because we have been reviewing primarily dog books and need to branch out a bit.

Also, there were eight cute cats on the cover.

We loved the cute recipes for cats in the back: you can tell they were concocted by a real French chef. “For Hash a la Henry IV,” the directions begin like this: “Mince the liver, heart and gizzard of your Sunday chicken. Stir in a little water. . . .”

I actually picked up The Book of Happy Cats to give as a door prize for a pet class I am teaching in a couple of weeks. Since most of my give-aways are for dogs, I needed some cat stuff.

However, I am not sure if this is appropriate for little cat lovers: the book opens with motherhood and birth – that’s OK – but goes on to give advice about what to do when the litter is larger than you have prospective cat-owners for: “Avoid the method of cotton soaked in ether: this is slow and painful, contrary to what you may have heard. The quickest and gentlest method is to use a container filled with water up to the brim with a cover you screw on immediately afterward.” Hopefully that will just quickly pass by a little mind. . . .

Other topics covered include health and feeding (recipes tested by Lucy, Touen and William Shakespeare, of course).

And our apologies for not being able to include a picture of the cover. If someone sends us to France, we may be able to update it in the second edition of this review.

Second edition: Ha! All we had to do was to google on the author’s name!


Of, if you prefer to read the original:


Monday, July 8, 2019

Book Review: Why Do Dogs Do That? (combo answers)


Why do Dogs do That? Real Answers to the Curious Things Dog Do (with training tips), by Kim Thornton (Bow Tie Press, 1997, 64 pages, $6.95)



These little books (about 8” by 5”) are (or were) all the rage. Even trainers bought them. Sometimes. The books live in pet superstores primarily.

I often purchase popular dog books (though I get most of the books I review from publishers or authors – sometimes used book stores or libraries) precisely so I know what my clients are buying and reading and learning from, before they come to me.

I also buy some of these little books for a fun read and to find out why some people think dogs do what they do. However, there is very little research in these books and generally no bibliography.

Granted, Why do Dogs do That? was written in 1997, but still I need to point out that it serves primarily for fun answers rather than helpful ones – answers (of a sort) to questions like Why do Dogs Bark? to Why do Dogs Stick Their Heads Out of Car Windows?
Published in 2010. Or 1964.

Some of the 20 questions everyone already knows the answers to: others, they don’t care about; and still others are for entertainment. but most of the 'answers' combine all these and it is up to the astute reader to be able to discern when the author is pulling your leg. Therefore, I would recommend it to the absolutely new dog person or to the expert who can tell humor from fact.

Since most dog-related occupations are not regulated (except for healthcare [veterinarian-types]), people who want to train dogs can call themselves dog trainers and open a business. People who want to be dog book authors can simply write a book about dogs.

On the other hand, I prefer dog books written by professional dog trainers (preferably those who use positive reinforcement rather than pain). Although the cover to this book mentions the inclusion of training tips, I would not recommend it for training tips alone.

But, I Digress

So, back to the book review. The answers to all the questions you have been dying to ask take up from 2-4 pages each with numerous cutesy illustrations (a lot of dog bones) and an average of 17 sentences per chapter. Wow!

I met the author years ago at a dog writing conference: her background is in journalism, a worthy endeavor, as well as in editing a beginning pet magazine. She has extensive interviewing experience, from which she writes articles.

So, all in all, go ahead and buy this book for a summer beach read, one chapter at a time. Better yet, check it out of your local library!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Book Review: I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor (boy, single mom, Japanese family next door)


I Survived The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941, by Lauren Tarshis (Scholastic Books, 2011, 112 pages, $4.99, ages 7-10, grades 2-5), number four in a series of at least 19 historical disaster books for kids. Fiction books in a non-fiction settings.

 What Would You Do? 

You keep coming back to a few stories in history, time and time again, because they are unforgettably scary-exciting or full of real-life heroes. Maybe the Kennedy assassination or maybe 911. Maybe you have lived through one of these and remember it well or maybe your grandfather did and you like to listen to his tales.

Today seems pretty tame compared to disasters of yesterday like Pearl Harbor or the eruption of Mt. St. Helens
or World War II or maybe even the more recent but geographically specific Hurricane Katrina.

What would you have done if you had lived in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906? What if you barely felt the earth shaking or what if you had to flee your downtown apartment and then became homeless? Did your family manage to stay together?

What Would You Remember?

I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor is a basic story we all remember (part of, at least) but what if you had been a small boy living with your mother, a nurse, and next door to a Japanese family whose 3-year-old boy worshipped you? (And, yes, there is a 'puppy' in this story.) Chances are that you would remember more if it happened to you or someone you knew, even if in a book.



Author Lauren Tarshis has written a series of exciting fiction books around girls and boys and things that actually happened in history. It is so much more memorable if you read about people rather than just historical facts.

And chances are you will want more of this series than just Pearl Harbor! And you will want to read them first!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Book Review; My Life with the Chimpanzees (Jane Goodall, Africa)


My Life with the Chimpanzees (Revised Edition) by Jane Goodall (Minstrel, 1988/1996 [DogEvals reviewed the 1995 version], 156 pages, $4.99, ages 8-12, grades 3-7)


What do you really know about Dr. Jane Goodall, other than she lived with monkeys in Africa? Is she a Dame, the equivalent of being a knight?

Perhaps your child has watched a documentary in school or has learned about a program called Roots and Shoots.


Did you know Jane was a secretary, that she lived and worked (but didn’t attend) at Oxford, that she had a hedgehog, that her ‘heart-dog’ in childhood wasn’t even her family’s dog, that it took her until age 26 to begin her live studies (in real time) with the chimpanzees in Africa?

Inspirational Book, Inspirational Lady

Told in her own words, My Life with the Chimpanzees takes the young reader from Jane’s early childhood in Germany and England through to the present day (or almost present day!). After only a few years in Africa, other students came to live and work with her and to learn from both Jane and the chimps, yet she was not without controversy: for being the first woman to live alone in the African jungle as an ethologist (1960) and for naming her observational chimps rather than just giving them numbers. She was also the first to observe chimps using tools.


Divorced and then widowed, Jane turned her attention to dwindling numbers of wild animals and their habitats. She also began teaching children worldwide about conservation and made it fun! Roots and Shoots, founded in 1991 and now with the Jane Goodall Institute (1977) of Vienna, VA, helps students of all ages combine love and learning for people, animals and the environment.

Have fun reading this book. You may just learn that Jane’s sister shares her birthday (or not) and you will cherish the story of the orphaned chimp who was ‘adopted’ by a spinster uncle-chimp.

Read More about it:

Primates is also a fun book about Jane, Birute Galdikas (orangs in Borneo),
and anthropologist Dian Fossey (gorillas, Gorillas in the Mist)