Melson, Gail F. Why the Wild Things Are: Animals in the Lives of Children

Melson, Gail F. Why the Wild Things Are: Animals in the Lives of ChildrenHow important are animals in the lives of children and what difference do they make? Anyone who has had a pet or seen a child interact with or pretend to be an animal knows that there is significance to their association. This book looks at the child-animal relationship using academic research to come to some interesting conclusions. For example, the author points out how a boy's relationship with animals is one of the few opportunities in our culture for him to show nurturing behavior and how the presence of an animal in a stressful situation can relax a child, which is even reflected in lowered blood pressure. Reasons for this may be the "baby-like" appearance of most pets, but even large animals, like horses, can be part of a healing experience for physically or emotionally handicapped children. Children and animal relationships that seem conflicting, such as 4-H children raising animals to show and then to send to slaughter and instances of children who injure or kill animals as a precursor to adult crimes, are also analyzed.

The book is written in a clear style that even a thoughtful middle-school student can understand, while being challenged by the sophisticated vocabulary and the solid scientific method of the research. Extensive notes and a complete index substantiate the research. Nola Theiss, Sanibel, FL

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

A--Recommended for advance students and adults. This code will help librarians and teacher working in high schools where there are honors and advanced placement students. This also will help extend KLIATT's usefulness in public libraries.