3 out of 4 stars
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Whether a flock of geese flying overhead or a squirrel scurrying up a tree, many of us see animals in the wild almost every day. Often, we don’t give them a second thought, but what kinds of thoughts might the animals be having about us? An Animal Tale of Safety and Survival, The Book by Thomas E Healey gives the reader a firsthand glimpse into the animal side of things. While this story is fiction and largely written for a young audience, the struggles inside are very real.
The book opens with an animal mother weeping for a child killed by humans. If this were the first time, it might be one thing, but for the animals in this story, the loss of life and limb is too common. Wren, a wise old owl, is the unofficial leader among the animals and wants to introduce ways for his friends to keep themselves safe. He continuously pushes doing so off, though, always afraid it’s not the right time because of all the heartbreak and tragedy. With this lack of initiative from Wren, many animals have become dissatisfied with how things are. They want to take back their right to live, which is where Clay, a buck, enters as a beacon for animals wanting to put humans in their place. What follows is a power struggle between Wren and Clay, which is set off by animals trying to stay safe from humans while realizing some dangers don’t come from man.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’ve had passing thoughts about how the human lifestyle might affect the animal kingdom, but this book brought those passing thoughts into prominence. Danger is a part of life. Each time we step outside or even walk down a flight of stairs, there is risk. For the animals in Healey’s story, the risks are enormous, and I found myself drawn to the strife and emotion in these pages.
Healey does an excellent job of keeping the story from the perspective of animals. There are some scenes featuring only humans, but even in these places, it’s clear this is an animal story. Cars are referred to as “rumble wagons,” which was a great touch. At one point, one animal remarks to another that “It takes a forest to raise a baby.” I loved this twist on the famous “It takes a village to raise a child” line. Little details like this reminded me I was among animals throughout the book.
While the struggles in this story are not ones most human children might face, this book is still packed with real-life lessons. At the beginning, the animals exclusively blame the humans for the tragedies that befall their community. Through a series of incidents, though, they come to realize that it’s not only the humans who are responsible. While humans have been muscling in on their territory, the animals have not made any real attempts to alter their lifestyles. They come to realize that their lack of change means they are getting in each other’s ways, which is only adding to the casualties. This was my favorite aspect of the book. Not only did this highlight the importance of teamwork, but it emphasized the necessity of taking responsibility for one’s actions, a lesson it’s never too early to learn.
Unfortunately, there was a smattering of errors throughout the book. Due to this, I am forced to rate An Animal Tale of Safety and Survival, the Book 3 out of 4 stars. Otherwise, this heartwarming and heartbreaking story about our furry friends would have garnered a 4-star rating from me. While this book could tug at anyone’s heartstrings, late elementary school-aged kids might be the most appropriate audience. Slightly younger readers may also enjoy this, but I would caution parents against giving this to very young or very sensitive children. The death and loss themes may prove too much in some cases. Otherwise, this is the kind of enlightening book everyone should give a try. Personally, I found it to be eye-opening. I think the world needs more books like this, and I recommend this to anyone who loves animal stories or who wants a closer look at a population that doesn’t get the spotlight too often.
An Animal Tale of Safety and Survival...The Book
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