Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

The truth about cats and dogs (and gerbils, birds, fish, and other pets…)

Nat Geo Kids is all about the pets these days: they’ve just released Doggy Defenders, a series of books on working dogs, and they’ve also put out some great desk references about cats, dogs, and an Big Book to get younger readers excited about the world of animal companionship. Here’s a glimpse at some of the books out.

Cat Science Unleashed: Fun Activities to Do With Your Feline Friend, by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen/Photos by Matthew Rakola, (Aug. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3441-2

Ages 7-12

A companion to last year’s Dog Science Unleashed, Cat Science Unleashed is all about the cats, with a glimpse into cat biology and physiology, cat facts, and cat-tivities to engage the scientists in your life. Eleven kid scientists have tested their cats – you’ll meet them on a spread in the book – and invite readers to join them in discovering how cats see at night and how to discover their favorite smells. Activities include building a hiding spot for your cat’s toys (other than my living room floor? Have to get my kid on that) and making toys to test your kitty’s stalking prowess. There’s a glossary and list of further resources at the end A fun volume, and with a new science fair season on the horizon, this could be a fun way to give your kiddos’ cats the spotlight at school in addition to home.

Cat Breed Guide: A Complete Reference to Your Purr-Fect Best Friend, by Stephanie Warren Drimmer & Dr. Gary Weitzman, DVM, (Sept. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3439-9-

Ages 8+

This is a compact, thorough desk reference to cats, perfect for an animal lover, cat fan, and anyone either writing a report about felines or researching a new pet. The guide provides a look at feline history, with a cat family tree, a history of cats and how domesticated cats became household constants, even cat-related superstitions and folktales. There are profiles on more than 60 cat breeds, organized by short hair and long hair breeds, and each profile offers a quick “cat stats” box that provides notes on country of origin, size, coat, grooming, and “catitude”. There are gorgeous photos, fun facts, and general adorableness throughout, plus a section on cat-related careers, a glossary, and further resources. I’m always trying to keep my domestic animals/pets books stocked, so this one will be a nice add to my shelves.


Dog Breed Guide: A Complete Reference to Your Best Friend Fur-Ever, by TJ Reser & Dr. Gary Weitzman, DVM, (Sept. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3445-0

Ages 8+

A companion desk reference to the Cat Breed Guide, Dr. Weitzman and TJ Reser team up to give readers a comprehensive guide to canines, from their wolfish origins to today’s modern breeds. Organized into 10 sections, dog profiles include full-color, squeal-worthy photos and stats-at-a-glance: country of origin, height, weight, coat, grooming, exercise needs, and K-9 qualities. There are sections on show dogs, canine senses, and how to talk to your dog, and a section on adopting and training a puppy. There’s a glossary and more resources.

Together, the Dog and Cat Breed Guides provide a handy reference for pet and animal lovers.


Little Kids First Big Book of Pets, by Catherine D. Hughes, (July 2019, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3470-2

Ages 4-8

I love the NatGeo Kids Little Kids First Big Book series! There are 17 books in the series now, and they’re great for pre-readers to look through, while emerging readers can more confidently navigate the pages. Words are bold, the pictures are big and bright, and there’s tons of fun facts, quizzes, and info to be found. The First Big Book of Pets is all about our favorite companions, from dogs and cats to birds, reptiles, fish, mice… you name it. Interactive questions throughout the book prompt discussion, games at the end of every chapter help reinforce concepts and give librarians like me an excuse to have fun, pet-related programming, and fact boxes give kids info at-a-glance about different pets. If you know a kiddo who wants a pet, but isn’t quite decided on what pet to get, hand them this guide – it’s geared toward educating kids about different pets’ needs, and our responsibilities to animals once we adopt them. A section for parents includes a recipe for baking dog biscuits, pet jokes and tips and ideas to engage kids about pets. There’s a glossary and list of additional resources. The Little Kids First Big Books are really popular with my library kids, so this one is another win for my shelves.