Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs, By Michaela Muntean, 40 pages. @ SPL: J 636.708
“Our best selves are sometimes hidden. But what if someone saw us, truly saw us, and believed in the wonders waiting inside of us?”
When Luciano Anastasini fell 50 feet from a high wire, his days as a circus acrobat were over. Wishing to stay with the circus, he devised a new act involving some performing four-legged friends: dogs. Not just any dogs would do. Having himself been given a second chance with the circus, Luciano wanted to do the same for his new partners … so he went looking for dogs that no one else wanted.
It wasn’t difficult to find 10 of them – all of them scruffy, and all of them unwanted. In each, Luciano could see intelligence, energy, determination and many other positive qualities, whereas other people could only see faults and problems.
“No one’s perfect,” he told the dogs, and they went to work. Luciano studied the10 dogs and built his new act around their natural talents and abilities. He believed in them and he worked around their weaknesses. Gradually, he gained their trust and love as they trained together for long hours. In turn, Luciano loved them and treated them with kindness and patience.
The result was a new act that was fast-paced, clever and funny. Audiences loved it, and the dogs loved performing. “Luciano Anastasini and his Pound Puppies” became a star act and was hired by the biggest circuses in the business. The new stars crisscrossed the country, performing in show after show. Circuses and animals are favourite topics with kids, and this heart-warming, happy, true-life story, featuring plenty of eye-catching photos of the dogs, and an introduction by Kate DiCamillo (author of Because of Winn-Dixie), will be a sure hit.
** Recommended for ages five to nine.
Cat Found, By Ingrid Lee, 159 pages. @ SPL: J FIC Lee
In the town of Clydesdale where Billy Reddick lives, there are too many stray cats. The local animal shelter is full. Many people, including his father, are tired of the noisy cat fights each night and want to get rid of the cats. Some, including a few of Billy’s classmates, have started to treat the cats cruelly, chasing them or throwing sticks and stones at them.
When Billy finds a small, starving, badly-injured stray, he knows he must help her. Smuggling her into his bedroom (at the opposite end of the house from that of his busy, preoccupied parents), he installs her at the very back of his closet and names her “Conga.” As Conga gradually recovers and becomes more mobile, Billy must work harder to keep her presence in the house a secret. He sneaks food to her and lets her out through his bedroom window.
Fortunately, she is a quiet cat. When Billy discovers that Conga is about to have kittens, things become even more complicated. Billy’s love for Conga and her kittens eventually gives him the courage to show others in his town the importance of treating abandoned animals with kindness and empathy.
With his efforts and those of others including his father, some truly wonderful things happen in Clydesdale, such as a comfortable new “Cat Haven” … just in time for Christmas! This tough but tender story by Canadian author Ingrid Lee would likely appeal to fans of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s popular children’s story, Shiloh.
** Recommended for ages eight to 12.
– Sally Hengeveld, librarian