My Patients and Other Animals by Suzy Fincham-Gray & Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You! by Marley Dias

By  0 Comments

A veterinarian and a young entrepreneur provide two works of nonfiction for summer reading pleasure. Moms and daughters both will enjoy these books.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my! You probably don’t have any in your house right now, but the kitty and puppy lying nearby might sometimes seem as ferocious as their larger cousins. As you’ll see in the new book My Patients and Other Animals by Suzy Fincham-Gray, we’re wild for our pets!

At the tender age of 14, Suzy Fincham knew that she wanted to be a veterinarian and she began volunteering at a local animal clinic, the same Herefordshire-area clinic where later, as a veterinarian-school graduate, she’d “seen practice” and learned a thing or three about larger animals. While that was helpful and Fincham was tempted to stay in Great Britain, she knew that her heart was with cats and dogs, not sheep and cattle. With a lump in her throat, she came to America to attend Cornell University, which led her to the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary teaching hospital.

There she came to understand that the relationship between people and their pets baffled her. Fincham hadn’t grown up with pets so, for better understanding and because she was lonely, she adopted a cat, then another, and a third. With her own pets in mind, it was easy to see human connections in pet ownership, but at the same time, Fincham’s impatience caused conflict with co-workers. Looking for a better fit, job-wise, she moved to Baltimore, where her family grew to include a man and a hyphen; then to San Diego, where they gained a long-awaited dog.

In her career, Fincham-Gray has met animals that left their pawprints on her heart and lessons in her head. There was Hercules, a Doberman and her first GSW. A wolfhound taught her that her instincts and sub-conscious were both good tools to rely on. A jaundiced cat taught her that limits can be moved; she learned that hasty decisions are the worst ones to make; she discovered that it’s hard when a pet dies, no matter whose pet it is.

And yet, much as you’re going to enjoy this animal-loving delight, beware that there are things here you won’t like. Fincham-Gray describes old-time practices that may make readers gasp. She recalls dogs in pain, cats near death, injuries, abandonment, and not all the endings are happy. The good news is that those cringe-worthy bits are balanced by thoughtful observations on the human-animal bond and a bit of romance. That makes My Patients and Other Animals a can’t-miss book.

Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You!
I don’t like that! How many times a day do you say those words. Read Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You! by Marley Dias and do something about it!
Marley and her mother were having breakfast when Marley’s mom asked what one thing Marley would change in the coming new year. It happened after Marley just had finished a book that “opened a whole new world…” That, and a required-reading list that was badly lacking in diversity led her to say that she would change how “classic” books are viewed in schools. To be exact, schools needed more black girl books on their shelves.

How can educators expect kids to love, instead of dread, reading,” she asks, “when they never see themselves in the stories they’re forced to read?” And so, with the help of her parents, Marley created a hashtag, #1000blackgirlbooks, to match the idea she’d envisioned: to collect and donate to schools and libraries a thousand books featuring black girls in the stories. Her parents started using the hashtag on their social media accounts and it spread. Soon, Marley’s campaign really took off. By now, she’s collected well beyond her original goal of 1,000 books, and she’s donated them all.

But there’s more to this book. Yes, you can make change, and the first step is “get woke.” What are the biggest issues facing your community and how can you be the activist that’s needed? Learn to listen and respect others’ thoughts. “Start small,” says Marley, and “Pace yourself.” Ask your parents, teachers, and other trusted adults for help and counsel. Educate yourself by reading. If you don’t know what to read, ask. Librarians, says Marley, are “super-helpful partners.”

As we’ve seen lately, kids can make change; Dias is a great activist ambassador for that. Parents should also note that Dias tackles the bad parts of life online, including trolls and haters, and she stresses to young readers that parental involvement is absolutely key. For the 11-to-14-year-old who frets about being too young to create change, this book may spark some action. For sure, it’ll open young eyes to old issues and for that, Marley Dias Gets It Done is a book you’ll both like. ■