For those who prefer to do their preliminary browsing in the library rather than the pet shop, Shuttlesworth offers a few unsystematic profiles of animals commonly adopted by children. The short chapters on cats, parrots, pigeons, pigs, reptiles, rodents and the rest mix natural history and anecdote (in which ""ESP sometimes seems the only explanation"") with warnings about responsibilities and tips on care and feeding. She stirs in a bit more pure description of the less familiar animals and more ""myth and history"" padding on those we know well. (There's even the ""historic story"" about Ulysses, ""a citizen of ancient Greece,"" being recognized by his dog after ten years of wandering.) Shuttlesworth doesn't come near to telling children everything they have to know to keep a secure ant farm, a healthy aquarium or a happy dog, and she glosses over other problems (financial with horses, ecological with box turtles and the praying mantis she suggests bringing indoors). A possible first step for the vaguely inclined.