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Pet Stories for Animal Lovers

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So many children love and cherish their four-legged friends. These new books pay homage to the comforting family members we call pets.

"The Poodle Tales" by Toni Tuso Faber; illustrated by Benton Rudd; Mindstir Media; $10.99-$16.99 each.

Poodles make excellent pets and have been lauded for their elegance, intelligence, social skills and agility. The creators of this collection of books, games and a fun website aim to teach life lessons to youngsters, as well as showcase lots of poodle love.

The 13 rhyming books penned so far are funny, heartfelt, educational and child-dilemma centered. The 12 poodles in the books help friends, learn to share, overcome physical insecurities, and learn that practice makes perfect. The poodles eventually all go their separate ways, traveling to new homes and careers. Young readers can keep tabs on their journeys.

The accompanying website, www.thepoodletales.com, is filled with fun animation and interaction, with printable activity books, audiobooks, games and videos. More books are planned, plus related toys and items, and even a cartoon series. The latest title, "Every Poo Loves the Zoo," recently hit shelves.

"Froggy Gets a Doggy" by Jonathan London; illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz; Viking Juvenile; 32 pages; $16.99.

The best things about London's "Froggy" books are his sound effects, which make reading the tales aloud a lively, giggle-infused experience. In his latest, the energetic Froggy and his sister go to the pet store to pick out a bunny, or maybe some mice. But when Froggy locks eyes with an adorable doggy, he's hooked. Problem is, she's a handful to train, especially when she steals Mom's underwear, snores and licks Froggy awake before dawn with a "sluuuuuurp!"

As with all worthy endeavors, Froggy and his family keep at it, even when a "POOPER SCOOPER!" is needed.

With a wry humor slant and a popular family topic to handle with aplomb, London's newest read-aloud is fantastic.

"Good-Bye, Fish" by Judith Koppens; illustrated by Eline Van Lindenhuizen; Clavis; 32 pages; $13.95.

This gentle story about loss, grief and hope stars the animals of Animal Square — six best friends who live together and share friendship, happiness and caring.

In this edition, Kitty worries when pet Fish isn't swimming anymore.

Dog and Kitty try to make Fish swim, but nothing works. The caring Giraffe lets them all know Fish has died, so the friends decide to bury him, but keep giving him water, resulting in a pretty flower growing.

A very sweet tale of pet loss for children 3 years old and up, "Good-Bye, Fish" is also whimsically illustrated and a smaller, sturdier size.

"About Parrots: A Guide for Children" by Cathryn Sill; illustrated by John Sill; Peachtree Publishers; 48 pages; $16.95.

The award-winning author/illustrator Sill team introduce young children to the colorful facts and joys in the world of cockatoos, macaws and lovebirds. With simple-to-understand text — "Most parrots use their feet to climb and swing from branches" — plus little sidebars with detailed information and an afterword, the Sills' book is straightforward and fun.

With lots of colors and intriguing facts, "About Parrots" (part of the popular "About ... " series) will charm young naturalists about birds that are sometimes pets.

"Shelter Pet Squad #1: Jelly Bean" by Cynthia Lord; illustrated by Erin McGuire; Scholastic Press; 128 pages; $5.99.

This charming new illustrated chapter book series by Newbery Honor author Lord is set in a pet shelter. Each thoughtful, lighthearted easy-to-read chapter book focuses on a different animal and the friendly kids who help them find a home.

In this first entry, "Jelly Bean," a girl named Savannah has always wanted a pet of her own, but lives in an apartment where none are allowed. What she can do is volunteer at a pet shelter, so she does and befriends an abandoned guinea pig at the same time.

With heartfelt stories and black-and-white spot art throughout, this new series for readers ages 6 to 8 is perfectly pet-friendly.

To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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