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Animal activism – Our Kindred Creatures need you to be brave


“Our Kindred Creatures: How Americans Came to Feel the Way They Do About Animals”

  • Written by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy
  • C. 2024, Knopf
  • $35, 464 pages

Maybe you have room for someone else. The image of this rescue animal touches your heart. Those soft eyes, little ears, fat, furry paws, and another dog or cat in the family wouldn’t matter, would they? After all, what’s a home without pets? In the new book Our Dear Creatures by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy, you’ll see how animals have moved into our hearts and homes.

Animal activism – Our Kindred Creatures need you to be brave

In the early part of American history, animals were often viewed as tools.

The horses were intended for pulling or carrying. Livestock, for meat or hides. Even the creatures we cherish as pets today were kept to hunt rats and moose, and this bothered Henry Berg. He had seen too many exhausted horses flogged to death in the streets of New York by frustrated humans, and he knew the laws were lax or nonexistent, so in 1866, he founded America’s first animal protection organization.

However, it took time to change minds: new local laws meant new ways of looking at animals as living beings, not as equipment. Enforcement of such laws was aided by social pressure targeting animal abusers, aiming to stop their violent actions, and sentiment spread: In 1872, Congress passed a law to make railroad cars for livestock more humane. Other influential activists joined Berg in his work to change the way animals were treated in America, and over time, animal protection societies sprang up across the United States to protect all creatures. Thus, these communities helped clean up the environment: when horses were not abused on the streets, fewer died on the sidewalks.

Animal activism – Our Kindred Creatures need you to be brave

But neither Berg nor his contemporaries stopped at horses, pigs, or cattle. Pets enjoyed a new domestic status and medical schools began using fewer live animals to train new doctors. Attitudes towards animals as entertainment changed, including the lives of circus elephants and racehorses. In 1874, Berg saw an unmet need, and this was at a time when the SPCA was lobbying to be able to protect children as well…

Here’s a warning about Our Dear Creatures: You’ll find a lot of hard-to-read stuff here, specifically, details about abused, killed, harmed, and dead animals. Will winced. You will want to look away. trust.

Be brave, and you’ll find a story full of animals, action, and fire-stopping situations. Authors Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy don’t perfect this story, but they speak directly to animal lovers with this book, starting the tale early in our nation’s history and moving it toward a topic within a topic. Once you reach the final pages, the authors ask you to think further ahead. Can we do better?

For most readers, the answer will lie in the bulk of this book, where the process from kennel and barn to king-sized bed is presented supported by other bits of history to provide a fascinating story with a few goodies included. If you’re an animal lover, all you need to know is that Our Dear Creatures is a book you’ll make room for.

“Sick! The twists and turns behind animal germs

  • Written by Heather L. Montgomery, illustrated by Lindsay Lee
  • C. 2024, Bloomsbury Children’s Books
  • $19.99, 149 pages

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee to rub your hands! That thing you picked up was dirty, it was filthy, and you don’t even know how many germs were on it. Just think about all the dirt that might be on your fingers right now, and then go take a shower. Use lots of soap. Once you read the new book “Sick!” Written by Heather L. Montgomery, and illustrated by Lindsey Leigh, you’ll be excited to do so.

You’re a rude, slimy person…and that’s okay.

It’s a good thing, actually, because the gunk in your nose, mouth, and intestines contains antibodies that can protect you from germs just about everywhere. These slimes have been keeping people safe “since ancient times…”

Animal activism – Our Kindred Creatures need you to be brave

Even animals have to be guarded against parasites and bacteria. Often times, animals instinctively know what to do to make themselves feel better, if they are sick. Take wild chimpanzees: they often reach for a specific type of leaf when they are infected with parasites. Scientists have observed similar cases of “self-medication” in other animals as well.

If you think of mushrooms when someone says “mushroom,” you’re right. But there’s more to the story: Scientists know about 144,000 fungi and discover hundreds more every year. How do the bodies of some animals resist fungal infections? They “infect themselves with a fever” that kills the fungus. It is also helpful for the animal to have “superior mucus” on its body as well.

Ants will sacrifice pupae if fungal spores infect the nest. Crocodiles that live in marshy swamps rely on antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in their blood to keep bacteria away. It seems that vultures’ bodies work with bad bacteria, and scientists are still studying this.

Animal activism – Our Kindred Creatures need you to be brave

As for you, well, you’re very lucky. Most humans have about 3 billion B cells in their bloodstream, and each B cell makes antibodies to help fight any fungi, infections, bacteria, or viruses you may encounter.

Montgomery says, “Take that, you evil virus!”

Oh my. “sick!” Makes a bit of a mess.

It starts at the beginning of the book with worms, no Germs As the subtitle promises, blurring the distinction between germs, fungi, and parasites. This can be misleading if you are a scientifically minded child who wants to learn about one topic but gets stuck on another.

The head scratches persist in other, more persistent veins.

As things progress, author Heather L. Montgomery uses schoolyard terms to refer to illness, and gives many of the germs and critters cute names. Nicknames like “Flavio Frog,” “Victor Vulture,” “Ada Ant,” “Stephanie Staph,” and “Presley Perfringens” fill this book so densely with alliteration that it becomes all too obvious. United nationsCute which seems offensive to the upper end of the target age group which is 9 to 12 years old. On the contrary, the terminology here is purely scientific, which may be too much for a younger reader in this target range.

Overall, this book has fundamentally sound information but is too broadly spread, age-wise, and misses its mark on both ends. Think first, if you are looking for something for your young world. “sick!” It may not be a good fit for them, and you may need to ditch that idea.

moreBookworm: “Extinction” – a story that will soon become true?

AndBookworm: ‘The Fixer’ – Find exciting Hollywood tales

alsoBookworm: “The Sky Was Falling” is a good, windy book

The bookworm is Terry Schleichenmeier. She has been reading since she was three years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terry lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read previous columns on marconews.com.



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