Monday, October 1, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: The house of a million pets by Ann Hodgman, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

We've had this nonfiction chapter book for a while and it's pretty popular with kids, when it's displayed. Nobody goes looking for chapter books in the 600's. When I started reading it, the author said that she was always being asked by kids why she didn't write a story about her pets, since she was a writer.

"Huh, she's an author?" I thought. "I've never heard of her." Ironically enough, this nonfiction title that she wrote after her other books seems to be the most popular thing she did. Her other titles are mostly Apple paperbacks and midlist, out of print selections.

Each chapter tells about a different pet she's owned, with sections in between like "Some of the best things about prairie dogs" and "The stupidest thing I've ever said about an animal." The stories are funny, gross, sad, and heartwarming in turn. Some of the animals die, some of them cause problems. She makes mistakes in trying to rehabilitate some wild animals and worries about purchasing exotic species.

This isn't a "how to" book for keeping pets. It's more an autobiography focusing on one aspect of the author's life; her beloved animals. Personally, it isn't the type of book I'd pick up. I don't like books about pets, and my own very unsentimental approach to animals makes me suspect that we are not kindred spirits. I also found the narrative to have a rather strong "and THEN" plod to it. However, kids who are obsessed with the care and keeping of animals really adore this title. There aren't a lot of nonfiction chapter books about this subject for kids and it's certainly funny and has a lot of variety.

Verdict: I don't know that I'd recommend adding this one unless you've got a really large population of older kids wanting pet stories, but if you have it I'd keep it!

ISBN: 9780805079746; Published 2007 by Henry Holt; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library (before my time)


Perogyo said...

I'd think there would be a lot more pet books for older kids out there.

Personally I like other people's pets. Not a big fan of my own. What can I say, I'm lazy. And if I want someone to sleep across my neck at night I have kids who can fill that void.

Jennifer said...

*snicker* reminds me of a very...odd professor I had in college. We didn't learn much about education reform from her, but she did bring awfully cute cats to class. We were wondering where she was getting all these cats from and then found out she ran an unofficial cat shelter at her house..."but only 7 of them sleep in my room." Needless to say, we were not surprised to find out her husband had an apartment where he usually slept in the north of the city "for work."

Perogyo said...

I cannot even imagine. I don't think I could attend a class that was not veterinary medicine which included the presence of a cat. And there is a reason I did not study veterinary medicine!

Jennifer said...

I'm allergic to cats but I still like them. I just can't play with them too long. That class was kinda...a waste of time and money. But that's life.

Perogyo said...

I had a course like that. History of Medicine. No cats, I think they are too smart to spend any time in the presence of that prof.

But I guess the lesson is one about choosing courses much more wisely.

shelf-employed said...

An interesting review, I'd read it just because you've piqued my curiosity. Thanks for participating in this week's roundup. Lisa