CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 17 . . . . April 25, 2003
Soft, warm pictures portray a child waking up with a dog, cat and various stuffed animals. The child's day is filled with playing and caring for the domestic livestock and toy animals that live on his farm. At the end of the day, the dog, cat, toy creatures, and child cuddle together and go to sleep.
you are looking for a warm, loving book to teach respect for all life,
then My Animal Friends is the book for you. Gentle text and
nostalgic illustrations of farm life portray the basic respect with
which the family farm raised their livestock. "These are my animal
friends. They take care of me and I take care of them." In a
very real and literal sense, the family farm cared for the animals,
and in return, the animals cared for them through the production of
meat, milk, and eggs. It was an intimate and symbiotic relationship
that followed the routines, cycles, and experiences of the
If we are to respect life, we are also to celebrate life, and this book certainly celebrates the magic of relationships, animals, and imagination. Stephens celebrates relationships through the use of such words as play, care, follow, sing and love. Furthermore, the predictable rhyming structure and questions will appeal to young children who are listeners or beginning readers. Running, walking, and flying creatures also convey joy and a zest for living in Shoemaker's illustrations.
To say the least, this gentle rhyming poem is an adaptable book. Besides teaching animal sounds and respect for other creatures, adventurous adults with access to a musical instrument could play Stephen's easy musical score that is provided in the end pages of this book. By singing the poem, children could have a different experience of this book and its message. Singing can be a form of play and celebration, and it can also function to sharpen children's listening and language acquisition. In general, I was impressed by the flexibility, creativity, and warmth of this book. Go ahead! Sing and celebrate! I dare you!
Denise Weir is a library consultant with Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, Public Library Services.
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