There’s no such thing as a bad dog, just a bad owner.
National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day is tomorrow, April 30. This day was created as a way to raise awareness for thousands of pets that are waiting for (and needing) adoption from the shelters.
It isn’t always easy to adopt a pet through a shelter as I found when we were ready for a dog five years ago. Puppies were hard to come by in the pet shelters locally. The breeds there also weren’t recommended for families with small children.
It wasn’t always possible to meet the dog before adopting it. I think it takes patience and perseverance to find the right pet through a shelter, but it seems well worth the effort based on the rescue dogs and owners that I’ve met through the dog park. Pet shelters also turn out to be popular in Early Chapter Books this year.
How about you? Have you ever thought of adopting a pet from an animal shelter? What are your favorite books about adopting pets? Thanks for sharing!
Animal Shelter Picture Books
Tails from the Animal Shelter by Stephanie Shaw, illustrated by Liza Woodruff
This picture book combines poetry with extensive nonfiction narratives about animal shelters. Use this for April’s Poetry Month. It’s a nice accompaniment to all the animal shelter chapter books. There’s additional information in the back matter about volunteering for this popular cause. [advanced picture book, ages 6 and up]
Early Chapter Books of Kids Volunteering at Pet Shelters
My Furry Foster Family: Truman the Dog by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Melanie Demmer
Kaita Takano and her family foster pets as well as takes care of their dog Ollie, a dachshund, who is also a rescue. They have their hands full with Truman, a black lab with destructive tendencies. When it’s time to find Truman a forever home, it’s hard to let go.
This is an endearing series about pet rescue. My only criticism is the portrayal of the Takano family whose very large and round eyes and skin tone look more Latino than Japanese. An Asian illustrator might be more cognizant and nuanced about portraying a Japanese family more accurately. [early chapter book, ages 5 and up]
Critter Club: Ellie and the Good Luck Pig by Callie Barkley, illustrated by Marsha Riti
Ellie and her friends run an animal shelter in Ms. Sullivan’s barn. A new pig arrives and makes Ellie think she has extraordinary good luck so she’s worried that her lucky streak will end when the pig gets adopted. This is a sweet story that would appeal to girls. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Merlin: Shelter Pet Squad by Cynthia Lord
The volunteers at the Shelter Pet Squad are mixed ages. The youngest, Suzannah, is just 7 and a half. Her young age comes into play throughout the book as she’s too young to participate in the Adopt a Pet a Thon event without a parent. She also finds the books on ferrets to be a little advanced for her. She doesn’t want to seem like a baby in front of the older kids, but learning to take care of the new ferret is challenging. Is Suzannah just too young for the Shelter Pet Squad? [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Magical Animal Adoption Agency: Clover’s Luck by Kallie George, illustrated by Alexandra Boigner
Clover stumbles on an animal adoption agency in the woods near her house. This pet shelter is special because it cares for mystical animals like dragons and unicorns. Clover agrees to help out, but she has her hands full trying to run the shelter on her own when the owner is away. Still, she discovers that she has special talent is matching the right pet to the right pet owner. But can she protect the animals from an evil witch who is trying to steal them? [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Early Chapter Books of Animals Doing the Adopting
My Pet Human by Yasmine Surovec
This is a story from the point of view of a stray cat adopting a human. It’s a charming, well-paced story that feels like a graphic novel because dialogue bubble cartoons take up most of the page. It would appeal to reluctant readers, both boys and girls, because it’s a funny yet moving with drama and lots of love. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Diva is a pampered Parisian dog who is afraid to stray outside the confines of her home. Flea is a flâneur — someone who wanders the streets and bridges and alleys of the city just to see what there is to see. Diva is intrigued but nervous. Flea is curious and nervous about Diva’s life too. Breck-Fest, in particular, intrigues him. Together, they explore this opposite perspective until they figure out a way to merge the two together. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Middle Grade Books with Animal Shelters
Brave Like That by Lindsey Stoddard
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“This had a lot of elements that were interesting; scenes at the fire station, volunteering with an animal shelter, a beloved grandmother, and of course, dogs and football. Middle school is a minefield of interpersonal relationships, so it was interesting to see Cyrus’s understanding that for his own good, he should hang out with the football team, even though he doesn’t much like them. Of course, it is even better to show him realizing WHY he doesn’t like them, and challenging their treatment of a fellow student he likes. It’s good to see this sort of behavior modeled in books. It’s also interesting that Cyrus struggles with reading but is trying to get better.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Ember (Rescue Dogs #1) by Jane B. Mason and Sarah Hines Stephens
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Dog stories, especially ones that feature working dogs in action-packed storylines, have been more popular in recent years, and this is a great addition to books of this genre. The training is well described, and the path to becoming a Search and Rescue dog isn’t always smooth. Ember’s experiences with other families before coming to the Sterling Center highlights the fact that it’s important to match high energy dogs with families who understand their need for purpose and exercise!” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Nubby’s Story by Aubre Andrus
From Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Based on a true story, we follow the founder of W.E.A.R., a nonprofit animal rescue organization, Lou Robinson and husband Mark Bowling as they care for a boxer who was born without front legs. From birth, they took Nubby in, fed, and cared for him around the clock, battled illness, and found the best way to maximize his potential despite the challenges he faced. With four other dogs in the house and an animal charity to run, the two managed to help Nubby and also get the word out on social media that “different is not disposable”. They also faced challenges due to storms, reconfigured their house to better care for Nubby, and generally were tireless in figuring out the best way for Nubby to interact with other dogs, stay mobile, and have the same experiences as able-bodied dogs.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Storm Dog by L. M. Elliot
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“This was such a vivid description of spring in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains that I could smell those apple blossoms. Very atmospheric! Ariel’s family dynamics are interesting, and her friendship with Sergeant Josie is touching. I especially appreciated the unfortunate but illuminative scene where Josie is targeted by people who want her to “go back to her country”; she’s from Puerto Rico. Teaching Duke to dance was fun, which nicely balances out her well warranted anxiety about George. I was also glad to see that the father was described as older when his involvement in Vietnam protests was mentioned.” [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
Picture Books of Pets in Animal Shelters
Lola Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
Lola wants a cat so she learns about cats and how to take care of them. She and her mommy go to a cat shelter to find a cat and a kitten chooses her! There’s a lot to do to get ready for a new pet. When her kitten comes home, Lola knows just what to do. A gentle story about rescuing a kitten from a pet shelter and the responsibilities to be a good cat owner. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
The Lost Kitten by Lee, illustrated by Komako Sakai
Hina and her mother find a lost kitten at their door with gooey eyes. The mother cat seems to ask them to take care of her kitten. Hina would rather have a kitten from a pet store, but she helps her mother set up a space for the kitten and take care of it. She checks on the kitten but it’s disappeared. Hina remembers when she was separated from her mother in a store. She thinks the kitten might be feeling lost and scared too. Distraught, she decides to search for it and discovers it, finally, snuggled in her sweater. A lovely picture book to inspire cat adoption from a pet shelter. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Like a Wolf by Géraldine Elschner and Antoine Guilloppé
Raised in harsh circumstances and languishing in a dim kennel, this is a lonely dog whose only wish is for freedom and friendship. Because of the dog’s appearance — pointed ears, sharp teeth –, everyone passed it by looking instead for a “good dog.” Until one day, a man appeared and treated it with kindness. He recognized the good dog inside as a shepherd’s dog. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Sal Everybody’s Pal, Sal Finds a Forever Home by Diana Alvear, illustrated by Chandler Strange
Sal has been at the shelter for a long time and at visiting day today, hopes to find a forever home. Sal and his friends impart through this story lessons to readers that it’s best to adopt pets from shelters, rather than buy them from stores, and that all animals deserve love, dignity, and respect, no matter their age or health. This is good to buy for Adopt a Shelter Pet Day because 10% of profits will go to support animal rescue groups and shelters. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Dog Days in the City by Jodi Kendall
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“There is never a shortage of books about animal shelters and children who want to take care of animals, but there is never a shortage of readers for them, either. Most animal obsessed readers would be thrilled to have seven puppies arrive unbidden on their doorstep, even if it means quite the outlay of money for food and puppy pads! It was interesting to see Josie’s thoughts about quitting gymnastics, and her light romance with Scully was fun as well.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Atty at Law by Tim Lockette
Review from Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Atticus Peale lives in Alabama with her father (who, not surprisingly, is a lawyer), her stepmother, Taleesa, and her stepbrother, Martinez. Taleesa, who is Black, is a writer, and one day when Atty and Martinez are tagging along with her to an animal shelter, they meet Easy. Easy seems like a great dog, but a man shows up and wants the dog put down, claiming it bit him and that he is the owner. He won’t give his name or offer proof, but the dog can’t be adopted and the shelter director, Megg, says he may even need to be put down. Atty talks to her father, who lets her know she can go to court on behalf of the dog and argue that the law holds the owner responsible, and the dog should not have to die. The judge, who is a little annoyed with Atty for “playing lawyer”, agrees– as long as the dog remains locked up. Meg agrees to do this, and Atty has won her first case. Her father is working on a murder case; a man they know from the neighborhood has been accused of killing the pawnshop owner, and the evidence doesn’t look good, although Atty finds some holes in the case, including the fact that the man in question couldn’t read. ” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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