Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Animals Capture Kids' Hearts and Imagination

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Animals Capture Kids' Hearts and Imagination

Article excerpt

Peter Rabbit, Winnie-the-Pooh and Cat in the Hat are icons of children's literature.

From them, generations have learned about the consequences of mischief, the nature of enduring friendships and the thrill of taking chances.

The fact that they're animals doesn't make them any less popular than equally recognizable human characters such as Pippi Longstocking, Tom Sawyer and Madeline. Readers are as familiar with Peter Rabbit's brush with death in Mr. McGregor's garden as they are with Tom Sawyer's clever plan to get the fence whitewashed.

Having animals as protagonists goes along with children's fascination with things coming to life. Today's two selections feature four-legged creatures that have something to teach young readers.

-- Title: Dr. Duck

-- Author and illustrator: H.M. Ehrlich/Laura Rader

-- Publisher: Orchard Books

-- Price: $14.95

-- Ages: 3 to 6

Every day, Dr. Duck drives his big red van around the countryside to visit patients. There is a lot of work to do.

He calmed Mother Mouse whose baby had fever. And listened to the cough of a two-year-old beaver. Cough syrup for a sheep who had a bad flu. Pink pills for a cow too hoarse to say moo. A splint for a crow with a broken toe. An ice pack for a mule bumped by a hoe.

Dr. Duck helps all the animals and goes home to discover he feels cold and achy. Before he can cough, moan or find a hot water bottle, his grateful patients arrive with tea, juice, a soft pillow and snug blankets.

This book, with its catchy rhyme scheme and funny illustrations of animals, will capture a youngster's attention from the first page when Dr. Duck treats some weasels for sneezles. While they're laughing, children will learn a simple lesson: Friends help friends.

-- Title: All By Myself

-- Author and illustrator: Ivan Bates

-- Publisher: HarperCollins

-- Price: $14.95

-- Ages: 3 to 7

Maya is an elephant whose mother makes breakfast by reaching high into the trees for juicy leaves. …

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