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Animal book aimed at kids, but good for adults, as well
Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing, and Rescue by Peg Kehret
c.2012, Dutton
$16.99/$18 Canada
175 pages

You’ve had enough. Or maybe not. You’ve had enough homework, hassle and chores to last you the rest of your life. Enough drama and enough sadness. But you’ll never have enough animals.
There’s always room in your heart for another dog. Your lap could hold more cats or guinea pigs. You could squeeze another aquarium in your room if you had to, and your yard is big enough for a horse … isn’t it?

You’re a kid who loves critters of all sorts, and you love learning about them. So read the new book Animals Welcome by Peg Kehret, and meet someone like you. Kehret has always been an animal lover, and she’s tried to include animals in most of the many books she’s written. She also tries to include animals in most of her life.

That inclusion became easier when Kehret and her husband, Carl, bought 10 wooded acres in Washington state. There, deer and elk come to visit, baby fawns are born, bears and possums steal birdseed from feeders and peacocks wander over to snoop. Kehret loves to watch them all.

And while she enjoys wildlife – including the many birds that visit her woods – she also adores her household pets. She’s always shared her home with at least one dog and says all but one of her dogs has been a rescue. Kehret, you see, is a big supporter of her local animal shelters.

And then there were the kitties: Molly and Pete were beloved companions. Mr. Stray, a semi-feral cat, lived outside. And after Carl died, Kehret turned his workshop into a cat room and began fostering cats with the hope they’d be adopted into loving families.
Animals, it seems, know Kehret is a softie for soft fur. In addition to Mr. Stray, she’s been visited by other feral (untamed) cats, as well as by kittens that were bottle-raised. A lost, elderly dachshund showed up one day, missing her owner. Two ponies wandered down Kehret’s driveway, after escaping from their corral. Kehret helped them all. “Helping animals,” says Kehret, is “a way of life.” At her house, “animals will always be welcome.”

When your young reader is also an animal lover, it’s sometimes hard to find books enough to satisfy their story cravings. Fortunately, Animals Welcome fills that void nicely.

Author Peg Kehret’s words feel like snuggly flannel sheets, resonating with grandmotherly tones rich in warmth and respect for both subjects and readers. Her curiosity and a keen love of animals mix deeply with an obvious love for children, and that gives this book a solid kid-friendliness.

I particularly liked that Kehret is careful to teach readers to watch, not touch, wildlife and to be mindful of all animals. Kids can learn a lot, in fact, from this passionate animal-minded friend, and they’ll enjoy doing it.

Though this is a book for 7- to 12-year-olds, don’t be surprised if you’re tempted to read it, too. With its fur-and-feathered tales and its gentle, kindly flavor, Animals Welcome will be welcome on anybody’s bookshelf.

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Readers with questions or comments may write to Terri in care of this publication.