________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 17 . . . . April 25, 2003


My Animal Friends.

R. David Stephens. Illustrated by Kathryn Shoemaker.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2003.
32 pp., cloth, $22.95.
ISBN 1-896580-03-3.

Subject Heading:
Animals-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Denise Weir.

**** /4


These are my animal friends,

They take care of me, and I take care of them.
One says, "Moo, moo, moo-moo-moo"
So what is it - a cow or a kinkajou?
It says, "Moo, moo, moo-moo-moo."
What is the name of my animal friend?

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.

internal art

     If 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
seasons and of life.

     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!

Highly Recommended.

Denise Weir is a library consultant with Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, Public Library Services.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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