Pets are big business. Worldwide, there are around 470 million pet dogs, 379 million pet cats, 230 million pet birds, 65 million pet fish, 3 million pet reptiles, 1 million pet Guinea pigs, and quite a few others including insects and rats. People really do like pets. They are a part of the family. The dog that rests their head on your lap when you are sad. Or the cat that jumps up and curls itself up on your lap. They make us smile. They make us feel happy.
I do have a few pets. Two long haired Guinea pigs (Evie and Nibbles), which are cute but not so clever (but the little ones like them). And a corn snake, Syd, who is such a beautiful creature. We had stick insects some years ago, but they sadly passed away. Watching my little ones hold these tame animals is a wonderful thing to see. They are hypnotised by all the little details, from the tiny feet of the stick insects to the forked tongue of Syd. Pets can give younger ones a real sense of awe towards animals.
With pets being so popular, there are of course many books about them. Handbooks to help owners look after their new family member. Books about cats. Books about breeds of dogs. All sorts of books. I’ve seen them in book shops, and never really taken to them. A book about cats? Cute but no thank you. Horses? Beautiful big creatures, but I’m happier seeing one in real life than pictures of one. But I guess there is a little something for everyone.
There’s a new book that does tickle my fancy. Prehistoric Pets by Dean Lomax and illustrated by Mike Love, is a nice little book about pets, but with a twist. Aimed at children, it focuses on 7 different common pets. With lovely illustrations, each section gives great fun facts about the pet, almost like a simple zoology lesson. Accompanying the featured pet are some of their modern relatives with more great short facts. And then each section has the winning page: it opens and you step into the past with pop up illustrations of a long extinct relative. It’s fun, interesting, and really nicely written in a non-jargon easy to read way.
As an adult, I really quite enjoyed it! I liked the fun facts: short and manageable and easy to remember. It was well laid out, with the text working nicely with the illustrations. I am of course, just a little bit older than the target audience for this book. While I enjoyed it, I thought a nice way to really test it would be to see what the actual readership thought. So, I asked my little ones to review it.
My 10 year old:
“Great.” (A boy of little words.)
I asked what he liked about it: “The extinct animals were really cool. And all the little facts about the modern and extinct animals.”
His favourite was the Titanoboa, the biggest snake to have ever existed!
I asked what he didn’t like about it: “Nothing. Except maybe it could have had more pets and prehistoric animals.”
My 7 year old:
“Really fun and interesting. I loved the giant Guinea pig! And I really liked the pictures.”
When I asked what she didn’t like about it, she said “Nothing”.
Quite a couple of nice, honest reviews, if a little short. My little ones are a bit of a way off writing full blown book reviews. But then again, sometimes less is more.
It’s a nice accessible book. Kids will really enjoy it, especially if they have pets of their own, because they can relate to it and learn more about their pets. One of the really great things about this book is that you digest the facts without even realising you are. It’s well written, and engaging!