Tag Archives: animals

‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ by James Bowen

A Street Cat Named Bobstarstarstarstar


Here is a feel-good story that I found in a display of “mood boosting” books at the library. If your mood needs even more encouragement or this is your favourite type of read, there are even people who produce lists for such things, so these should keep you going!

Mood Boosting Books 2013

Mood Boosting Books 2014

Streetcat and Bob‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ is the true story of a cat who saves the life of a homeless drug addict in London, UK. It speaks to the power of pet love and the power of being needed. We all need meaning in our lives and unless we feel connected and useful, it is easy to become discouraged and make poor decisions. Here is a very good short documentary that will not detract from the reading of the book.

When James Bowen was earning his living on the streets and just barely scraping by, he found an injured ginger street cat. Two lost souls found each other and created a partnership that turned both their lives around. What I liked about the book is that it gives a human face to the homeless. These are people with stories and worth. They have fallen on hard times but perhaps a bit of kindness could turn things around and make a difference. I’ve always given to buskers because I appreciate the mood boosting music they provide in a dingy subway tunnel, but now I shall give even more generously and gleefully.

The best part about this heartwarming story is that the animal does not die at the end of the book!  In fact there is a sequel as well with more adventures. I haven’t read it yet, but The World According to Bob has firmly established James Bowen and Bob as celebrities who sign copies together at bookstores! From busking to bookstore attraction! What’s not to love?


‘The Dog that Talked to God’ by Jim Kraus

A quirky and heartfelt Christian story, this might be nice to download onto your Kindle or Kobo for a trip. It is light and sweet (but not too sweet), mostly for dog lovers but could be enjoyed by anyone. It does reflect daily struggles and doubts in a realistic way, although I found the ending a bit too neat and tidy!

Mary is recovering from a tragic loss and has decided to get a dog for companionship. She is not speaking to God at the moment because she is confused about how God could allow her new situation and is feeling distant in her faith. She is struggling to understand and feels God is silent and harsh. But she can speak to her new puppy and she is not even so very amazed when Rufus actually speaks back to her. Whether this miraculous conversation is real or not doesn’t matter. It becomes the catalyst for change and the nudge she needs. An inner voice can be instrumental in turning us in the right direction and when that voice takes the form of a miniature schnauzer, it is charming! People who have dogs regularly imagine what they are thinking so it might not even come as a complete surprise when they actually venture to voice their thoughts, ideas, or questions.

This is a novel in the tradition of Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain) and John Grogan (Marley & Me).

‘The Tiger, A True Story of Vengeance and Survival’ by John Vaillant

Guest Post by Dirk Booy
(It is my honour to introduce my husband who was happy to oblige when I asked him to write a guest post about the book he was reading. Here is his contribution. Thanks Dirk!)

What happens when the hunter becomes the hunted?   This is the story of The Tiger which takes place in Russia’s far eastern corner – one of the few remaining places on earth where Siberian tigers are still found in the wild.  Its the story of how a wounded tiger purposefully turns on the hunter and with great skill and cunning makes him the prey.  The tiger is then tracked down and destroyed by the main protagonist, but not before we learn the truth of how vengeful the tiger has been.

The book is more than just a story of a man eating tiger.  It is a rich tale of man vs nature that takes place in a truly remarkable wilderness.  It’s a history lesson on predator vs prey, a conservation challenge to an ever demanding world, and finally a social look at how humans have learned to adapt to one of the harshest environments on the globe.

At the end, the reader is left with a sense of awe and respect for the tiger but more so for the people who choose to share their environment with these magnificent creatures.  The book is well written and the author has managed to weave a suspenseful story around a number of thought provoking themes.  Well worth the read!

‘Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship’ by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumba

 What a great story and what a beautiful book! When life gets tough, we make unusual alliances and find unexpected friendships.  And we don’t have to be the same in order to get along! A line from the book sums it up, “Our most important friends are sometimes those we least expected.”

Tragedy struck both human and animal life with the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean on Dec. 26, 2004. An orphaned baby hippo was rescued  and sought solace in a friendship with an old tortoise in his new home in Kenya. They became inseparable. The photographs are amazing and this  true story is well told. “Mzee” means ‘elder’ in Swahili.

Owen & Mzee

Update: “As of March 2007, Mzee has been removed from the enclosure. A female hippopotamus named Cleo has been added to provide companionship for Owen. Owen seems to be adapting to his new companion and it is possible that Owen and Cleo will have offspring when he reaches maturity.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owen_and_Mzee]

‘War Horse’, by Michael Morpurgo

This post is NOT about the movie. Most of the people I’ve spoken to who have seen the movie ‘War Horse’ were unaware that it was first a children’s book by Michael Morpurgo. The story he tells is World War I from the perspective of the horse. Though affected by the war, the horse is a neutral party.

Michael Morpurgo is a master storyteller and an excellent speaker. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak in our little town of Windsor last year. What he said about ‘War Horse’ at that time, just before the movie came out, is that Joey represents all of the victims of war without taking any particular side. I’ve included an interview with the author at the end of this post.

Michael Morpurgo is a great storyteller. Since I had read War Horse a long time ago, I just spent the weekend reading three more of his books. I was totally absorbed. He has written a lot of them. Have a look at his website. It’s entitled “Stories for everyone.” That is exactly right. That is what he does. He tells stories that everyone, at any age, would enjoy, and those are always the best kind.  (www.michaelmorpurgo.com)

Washed up on an island in the Pacific, Michael struggles to survive on his own. With no food and no water, he curls up to die. When he wakes, there is a plate beside him of fish, of fruit, and a bowl of fresh water. He is not alone…


Aman, a refugee from Afghanistan, badly needs a friend, when a Springer Spaniel appears, seemingly out of nowhere. The dog becomes a constant companion, a shadow, and that’s what Aman decides to call her.


They say cats have nine lives, and that’s certainly true of Kaspar. From the glamorous suites of the Savoy Hotel to the servants’ quarters in the attic, to New York City, Kaspar proves that no cat is too small for big adventures. But then this is no ordinary cat. He’s Prince Kaspar Kandinksky – the only cat to survive the sinking of the Titanic…

‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ by Garth Stein

You don’t have to be a dog lover to enjoy this book, but the dog lovers will enjoy it more. It’s an engaging story, sad at times, but also funny and you’ll learn something about auto racing.

On the night before he is put down, Enzo, no ordinary dog, shares his thoughts on his life. Self-educated because his master leaves the TV on when Enzo is home alone, Enzo is not concerned about his life ending because he aspires to being human in the next one. He is a philosophical dog and has some wonderful insights into the human condition.

Denny, the race car driver,  works hard at the skills necessary to be the best in car racing and the techniques he uses are also instructive for navigating life’s ordeals, of which he has many. This is not just another dog story. It is uplifting and intelligent and explores not only the mysterious relationship between dog and man, but also meditates on how humour, loyalty, hope, and a “dogged” determination  can carry us through.

‘Ape House’ by Sara Gruen

This was a fun read. It raises important issues and is educational about apes who sadly have often been used as nothing more than “hairy test tubes”. Who knew that they could communicate, express their desires, learn language,  and make requests? Who knew that there were different types of great apes, not just chimps? Bonobos are intelligent, sensitive creatures who need to be understood and protected particularly because it is so tempting for humans to exploit them. The story begins in a linguistic center for bonobos, where there is a brutal attack and the bonobos are stolen and put on a reality game show. There are, of course, lots of human/ape parallels, and the book includes a searing commentary on the human obsession with reality game shows.

I love the humour in Ape House. Reviewers have criticized it for being trite and cliche and for not being well written. But I actually loved the lighthearted feel, despite the fact that it deals with some very weighty issues. This book is a pleasure to read.  Because of that it will be promoted and  the cause will be championed. The hilarious opening quote comparison by Britney Spears and a chimp, gets the book started on just the right note.

Sara Gruen is a Canadian born author who is passionate about  research for her novels and widely supports animals and wildlife. In fact, she was one of the few people allowed to visit at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa. They have an awesome website.
Great Ape Trust

Her other book ‘Water for Elephants’ was a smashing success, and I would be willing to bet was one of the biggest book club favourites ever. So if you haven’t read that one, you definitely have some catching up to do!

There’s a great little video to watch on Sara’s website, including lots of other reader features. Enjoy!

Sara Gruen\’s Website