I mentioned this briefly last week, but ever since I was about three years old I wanted to be a vet. I would practice on willing stuffed animals and my brother and I would perform surgeries on hundreds of Beanie Babies and teddy bears, as their owners (Barbies and Batmans) waited patiently outside.
Since this seemed to be my only passion between the ages of 3 and about 12, when I developed allergies to anything and everything with fur, I was given tons of animal books and veterinary stories as birthday and Christmas gifts. Two of these books were written by James Herriot, maybe one of the most famous animal doctors ever.
James Herriot’s Dog Stories and James Herriot’s Animal Stories are just two small books in an enormous collection of animal literature. While I was more partial to Dog Stories, I also enjoyed reading Animal Stories. These books are no more than 100 or 120 pages and are filled with unbelievable stories of some of the most extraordinary dogs, horses, sheep, cows, and pigs you will come across. Also included in these books are beautiful watercolor illustrations done by Lesley Holmes.
In the introduction to Animal Stories, Herriot’s son Jim Wight says, “He [Herriot] intended that the stories should simply be read and enjoyed, and this clearly shows in his books.” This is quite true. There is nothing under the surface of these stories…no hidden symbolism or allegories…these are just little vignettes of amazing animal tales, against a backdrop of the 1900’s English countryside.
Herriot’s collection of books has something for everyone. Dog lovers, cat lovers, horse lovers, farm lovers, or just those who love animals will find something to indulge in by exploring this vast collection of books. These are what I like to call “Grandpa books”, meaning there’s a sense of familiarity about Herriot’s writing, as if you’re both sitting by the fireplace in an old English cottage, curled up with blankets and hot cocoa, and relaxing to the soft sounds of Grandpa Herriot talking about Tricki Woo.
NEXT WEEK: Well butter my potato and call me O’Brien, it’s IRISH WEEK! Next week we’re going to discuss a little gem of a book about one of the most famous Irish (?) songs of all time.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.