Books about Animals and I’m off on a tangent…

Yesterday’s trip to the zoo had me thinking about books that are centered around animals.

There are, of course, countless children’s books that involve animals. This photo:

Squirrel and tortoise eating from a bowl of food
The tortoise is sharing his food with a squirrel… Like he has a choice.

… reminded me of a book I read as a child:

Animal Friends Goldenbook
Animal Friends

I have previously mentioned my love for Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmations.  If you haven’t read the book, DO IT!

I also remember reading a book called Summer Dog, Come Home as a kid. I can’t locate the book, but it was a story of a dog who passed through shelters and even a medical research facility. I was a big fan of dogs, but the story got a little preachy. There are SO many books about dogs, too…  Marley and Me, Benjie, The Incredible Journey (also had cats…) that have captivated readers for years.

I’ve read Watership Down multiple times. The cartoon version scared me as a kid.

When my children were little, we would often drive from New York to Florida, and I would often stop at Book Outlets when possible. At one outlet, I purchased a copy of this now hard-to-find gem:

Panda Cake hardcover book by Rosalie Seidler
A Panda Cake!

It’s an adorable tale, told in rhyme, of how an older brother takes advantage of his little brother and other animals around town, and pays the consequences.

Who can’t totally imagine a crow having the problem-solving skills to attain water from a jar like the crow in the Aesops Fable?  But did you know that crows are really capable of understanding logical reasoning?

Crow in a tree
Plus, they are absolutely GORGEOUS!

So now for the tangent part…

When I was in high school, my mother and I were out shopping in the old Winn Dixie plaza. (Yes, that makes me think of another book… Look! Squirrel!) Or it may have been the Kash N’ Karry plaza, which became another Winn Dixie, but will soon be going out of business… yeah, I really can hold a train of thought here.  There was a young crow on the ground. At first we thought it was dead, because the ants were circling, and it was just laying there. But it moved. And we had to investigate.

Edgar Allen Crow came home with us that night, and lived the rest of his life on our back porch in a cage. We fed him mushy stuff that the vet recommended, and he became quite tame. (He could have been a she… who knows?) My carpenter grandfather built Edgar a cage with a door that slid up and down.

Edgar liked to come out of the cage and be handled and petted and talked to in general.  He was a lovely bird. After I went off to college, my mother took care of him. She would walk out and say “Hi Edgar!” each time to greet him. After a while, he learned to puff himself up and respond with “Hi Ed!”

One day, when she took him out of the cage, the door fell on him, injuring him. While he made a recovery, he would not come out of the cage after that day, even though my grandfather put the door on a hinge to swing out after that.

We had quite the menagerie on that back porch: two dwarf rabbits (both male) named Thumper (aka Sh!thead) and Nixon, Honey the demented attack lovebird (found in the wild) and a mouse named Hunca Munca, to name a few. Sadly, there was a year when it seemed every time my poor little sister went out to the back porch, she would find another one had passed away.

Animals have souls. Whether they have the capacity to fully understand human language or not, our pets communicate with us through snuffles, kisses, grunts, barks, purrs, and most of all, eye contact. And sometimes, when we are very fortunate, the animals of the wild will deign to speak, too. Listen, you may be amazed.

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