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Published: Sunday, 7/29/2001

Animals are stars in new children's books

This is one in a series of monthly reviews of books for young people written by four area teachers of children's literature. Today's are by Dr. Barbara St. John of Bowling Green State University.

Children and animals seem to have a natural attraction for each other. Many favorite children's books are animal stories - Peter Rabbit, Charlotte's Web, Babar, and many others. There are, of course, many new animal books, and these are some of the best.

TEMPLE CAT. By Andrew Clements. Illustrated by Kate Kiesler. Clarion. Ages 5-9. $5.95.

The cat was lord of the temple in the ancient city of Neba. He was pampered and worshipped but he had no freedom. From afar he watched other cats whose lives seemed much more interesting than his own. Quietly, one night the temple cat slips away. The cat enjoys his new adventures and finds happiness with a fisherman's family.

DON'T NEED FRIENDS. By Carolyn Crimi. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. Doubleday. Ages 4-8. $15.95.

Life in the junkyard was hard. Survival is difficult, but the animals look out for one another. The grouchy new dog seems like a perfect companion for Rat, but Rat says, “Don't need friends.” Bitter winter temperatures complicate the animals' lives. Dog catches a cold and becomes ill, and Rat steps in to save the day. Maybe everyone needs friends.

CLICK, CLACK, MOO COWS THAT TYPE. By Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin. Simon & Schuster. All ages. $15.

Farmer Brown was having a problem with his cows. They found an old typewriter in the barn, then begin to make demands of Farmer Brown. When he refuses to buy electric blankets for the cows, they go on strike! The book is great read aloud - full of giggles!

WEMBERLY WORRIED. By Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow. Ages 3-7. $15.95.

Wemberly worried about everything - important things and little, unimportant things. As the first day of school approached, Wemberly had even more to worry about. What if she had no friends? What if no one else wore stripes? She had to take Petal with her - but what if no one else brought a doll? Then Wemberly met Jewel, and discovered that a friend helps solve many problems.

THE FIELD OF THE DOGS. By Katherine Paterson. Illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully. HarperCollins. Ages 8-12. $14.95.

There were too many changes in Josh's life - a stepfather, a new baby brother, the move to Vermont, a new school, and new friends. There is also a new bully. Josh spend long hours walking his dog. He realizes the dogs are also confronting a pack which threatens their field. Can Josh and the bully work together to save the dogs?

THE THREE PIGS. By David Wiesner. Clarion. All Ages. $16.

You have seen “The Three Pigs” many, many times. But not this way! Wiesner presents a unique version where the pigs escape into another dimension to elude the wolf. They meet the cat and the fiddle, the cow that jumped over the moon and a dragon. A fascinating book.

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