With an eye toward documenting remarkable animal/human interactions, Campbell has assembled a large collection of fascinating anecdotes.
Following a somewhat scholarly foreword by animal researcher Marc Bekoff and a long introduction, the tales are divided into four sections: “Domestic Companions,” mostly chronicling lifesaving actions by pets; “Trained to Serve, Inspired to Heal,” about search dogs and various other kinds of animals trained to perform particular functions; “Wild Saviors,” profiling unusual interactions between wild animals and humans; and “Legends and Folktales,” some describing the traditional folk basis for animal stories as well as others that “mix real life with exaggeration.” Each story is a page or two long, accompanied by an attractive black-and-white illustration by Beyer. Each animal is introduced with a text box that provides brief information about the nature of the event, including—an odd and silly touch—a “Fame Meter” that rates the animal from “Local Hero” (like Dory, a rabbit that saved its owner from a diabetic coma) up to “International Celebrity” (like Mkombozi, a dog that rescued a baby abandoned near Nairobi). One of the book’s strengths is the way events are evaluated in comparison to typical behavior or within the context of the emerging field of the study of animal minds.
Overflowing with information, fascinating tales and thought-provoking information; give it to animal-loving middle graders on up. (sources, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 11 & up)