Choosing a Hamster, Gerbil, Guinea Pig, Rabbit, Ferret, Mouse or Rat: How to Choose and Care for a Small Mammal
by Laura S. Jeffrey
Enslow Elementary, 2013
From the title and cover alone, this seems like a perfect book for kids choosing a pet. The gerbil on the cover - which given the angle of the photo looks pretty much like a hamster or mouse too - looks like he is begging for his forever home and the photographs throughout the book are similarly appealing. Clear language and short sentences are used to describe different small mammals with a focus on their particular needs and benefits as a pet. While not a thorough book on the care of each animal, the care is described in terms of what will be needed when selecting an pet. There are short chapters on health, picking up small mammals (oddly calling 'Preventing Problems') and one page on "living with your animal." It's a worthy title for an early elementary kid pondering the mouse-to-rabbit continuum of small pets.
That said, I did have a few problems with the book. While pros and cons of each pet are described, the hamster falls entirely on the negative side. "They are also known to get upset easily, and they bite or nip at their owners. Because of this, hamsters may not be the best small mammal for you." While the first is true, the direct suggestion is the only one given of any of the animals mentioned, and it bugged me as a hamster-owner. Also the bibliography only lists titles for rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Perhaps this accounts for the hate on hamsters - the author didn't read a book about how certain types of hamsters are better than others for kids. So my recommendation for the book is somewhat qualified. I am intrigued by the rest of the series from American Humane Society, which includes choosing a cat, dog, fish, and horse. Separate books. (I mean, no one is out there debating between a fish and a horse.)
For more great books, visit the Nonfiction Monday round-up hosted today at A Wrung Sponge.
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