Thursday, October 8, 2009
Admit it. You want a pet tarantula!
Jean Craighead George has written a lot of good books, including the Newbery Medal winner, Julie of the Wolves. Another of her books, My Side of the Mountain, is a Newbery Honor book.
I especially like her nonfiction. In (What a great title!) The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets she tells about raising crows (one of which learned to speak), ducks, geese, skunks, snakes, a raccoon, and, yes, a tarantula, among others.
Her daughter's favorite pet was a screech owl named Yammer. Yammer loved the shower. "He would fly into the bathroom... sit on the top of the shower-curtain rod... then drop into the puddles at our feet. Eyes half-closed, he would joyfully flip the water up and into his wings and dunk his breast until he was soaked... Having bathed, Yammer couldn't climb out of the tub. We would... pick him up and put him on a towel by the hot-air vent to dry.
"This was a perfectly satisfactory arrangement until we failed to tell a visitor about Yammer's passion... unaware of his presence, she showered, stepped out of the tub, and left him there...
"Craig (her son) promptly put up a sign, 'Please remove the owl after showering.' It hung over the shower faucets for as long as Yammer lived with us."
Jean Craighead George shares her love of, and knowledge of the ways of, all sorts of animals in this book. She hatched and raised seven bobwhites. "...they let me into their secret of survival. Bobwhites form coveys. At night these coveys sit in circles with their tails in and their heads out so that they may see or hear the enemy in all directions."
Her daughter complained about Crowbar. "I'm not going to play with that crow anymore," she said. "He takes all my toys."
"Why don't you slide down the slide?" I suggested. "Crows can't slide down slides. Their feet have pads that hold them fast to perches."... Crowbar watched, then "stepped on the steeply slanted board -- and was stuck... We had outwitted a crow, which we both knew was a very hard thing to do.
"...Crowbar flew to the sandbox. He picked up a coffee-can lid, carried it to the top of the slide, stepped on it, and -- zoom -- we had a sliding crow."
So I enthusiastically recommend this book. Ms. George knows animals. If you like this one, you might also try her How to Talk to Your Dog, and How to Talk to Your Cat. They're aimed at a young audience, but the dog information, especially, was new to me (I know cats.).