When kids start asking when they can get a pet, an intergenerational struggle of wills also can start.

Parents may resist adding more responsibility to already-hectic schedules, but children want the close connection with another living creature they can call their own. Also, communicating how much work a pet demands can be difficult.

Luckily, Ready Readers has two books perfect for achieving pet détente.

In Lola Gets a Cat – the newest title from author Anna McQuinn, with illustrator Rosalind Beardshaw – the simple, linear story should help readers understand both Lola’s desire for a feline and her mother’s hesitancy to add more work to their lives.

Mother and daughter learn about cats and their care by visiting the library and researching pet adoption on the internet. They also visit an animal shelter, where a tiny gray tabby befriends Lola – but the story scarcely ends there. Lola and her mom next prepare for the pet’s arrival by shopping for a bed, food bowls and more, then setting up a special corner for the feline in their home. When Lola learns that “moving is scary for cats,” she gives the critter space to explore and time to adapt to the new surroundings. Then, when settled, the tabby enjoys playing, but enjoys more than anything else snuggling with Lola.

This book should make an excellent introduction to the responsibilities of pet ownership. From McQuinn’s narrative, children should learn elements of pet care, and Beardshaw’s colorful, lively illustrations expertly convey Lola’s eagerness to find and bond with her new friend.

Thanks to a generous donor, by the way, Ready Readers will give 69 children from North Spring Head Start Center in St. Louis Lola Gets a Cat as part of a field trip/reading excursion to the Humane Society of Missouri later this month.

November’s whimsical second book, Cosmo ZOOMS by author/illustrator Arthur Howard, features an assortment of pooches instead of a cat.

Cosmo, a scruffy but enthusiastic terrier mix, numbers among many dogs on Pumpkin Lane, including an Old English sheepdog, an Afghan, a Saint Bernard, a fox terrier and a basset. Cosmo’s friends all excel at something – herding, running, drooling, catching Frisbees and howling – but poor Cosmo has yet to discover his own talent. Dejected, he retreats to sulk in the sun, where, quite accidentally, excitement and adventure ensue when Cosmo recognizes his individual ability and elatedly shares it with his canine neighborhood buddies.

Howard’s story touches on the insecurities we all feel, and his emotive illustrations clearly suggest the dogs’ personalities. The subdued background colors allow the characters to stand out, connecting the reader with the creatures’ distinct qualities, movements, and moods.

Purina has generously sponsored the purchase of 10,000 new copies of Cosmo ZOOMS, which will go to at-risk preschool children in classrooms around St. Louis that participate in our program. If you yourself would like to sponsor a book for children in need, please contact Ready Readers! Your involvement could change the lives and futures of our next generation.

At Ready Readers, we know that “Kids Who Read Succeed!” Reading aloud daily provides a strong foundation for early literacy. If you enjoy reading and sharing the magic of books, please consider becoming a volunteer for Ready Readers and reading aloud to a classroom of preschool children in an underserved area of St. Louis. Visit readyreaders.org for more information.

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