________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 29 . . . . April 1, 2011


On Parade: The Hidden World of Animals in Entertainment.

Rob Laidlaw.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010.
55 pp. hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-143-9.

Subject Headings:
Animal welfare-Juvenile literature.
Captive wild animals-Juvenile literature.
Circus animals-Juvenile literature.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.

Review by Elizabeth Walker.

***½ /4



Chaining elephants in circuses and traveling shows is common. They're usually chained by one front leg and one rear leg in an area about the size of one or two parking lot spaces. In a 2009 paper in the scientific journal Animal Welfare, the authors said the elephants in the circuses they reviewed were chained 12-23 hours a day; four circuses kept elephants chained in areas measuring just 7 to 12 sq. meters. That's smaller than a single car parking space. The elephants could only move 1 2 meters, the length of their chain.

Animal rights campaigner Rob Laidlaw pulls no punches in this disturbing and timely information text for upper elementary and high school students. Each section describes a certain aspect of entertainment that involves the abuse and confinement of animals, from circuses and movies to "Swim with Dolphins" and blood sports such as cock fighting. After an introduction that lays out the basic needs of all animals space, freedom of choice, things to do and family Laidlaw exposes how different entertainment industries deny animals these rights and cites many specific examples from around the world. Laidlaw demonstrates a solid grasp of animal behaviour and ethics and writes in a direct, first-person style that is factual and detailed, but still uses child-friendly vocabulary and sentence structure. He draws on his own observations from decades working as an activist, and includes photographs highlighting many grim practices around the world. The final chapters are a look at cruelty-free alternatives, such as Cirque du Soleil and animal rescue societies, and the book concludes with a glossary, FAQ section and index.

      Laidlaw's choice to write this book in the first person occasionally becomes distracting: certain parts sound more like a personal screed than a children's information text. Moreover, Laidlaw includes many references to studies, news events and organizations, but he does not support his research with a bibliography or footnotes of any kind. The layout is quite bland with every page very text-heavy; but the depth of Laidlaw's information, and the potential for this book to raise awareness and inspire action in its readers more than makes up for its shortcomings. On Parade is a passionate and thorough exposé of the entertainment industry and is definitely a valuable addition to school and public libraries.


Elizabeth Walker is a teacher-librarian in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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