August 20, 2007

Book Review: Pet Locksmiths

Unlocking the Animal Mind: How Your Pet's Feelings Hold the Key to his Health and Happiness by Franklin D. McMillan, D.V.M. with Kathryn Lance (Rodale Press, 2004, ISBN 1-57954-880-6)

This book was written by: Dr. McMillan is a Los Angeles veterinarian who has treated the pets of celebrities like Bob Barker, and consulted on the sets of films. Dr. McMillan establishes these credentials at the start of the book by having Bob Barker write the foreword, and relating in the first chapter how he was working on the set of Dr. Doolittle, when an animatronic robot standing in for the live dog that he had been working with had him "completely fooled" (p.2).
Kathryn Lance is a freelance writer whose co-writing credits include The Botox Book and Total Sexual Fitness for Women.

What is in this book: Dr. McMillan's assertion that since animals feel pain, they must feel other emotions as well, because the idea "that evolution would have created just one feeling in nonhuman animals defies any reasonable logic" (p.9). Doctor McMillan also draws connections between the physical ailments in animals and the emotional stresses brought on by their environment, arguing that in some cases a change to an animal's emotional environment will correct its physical illness.
Then he talks about when it's okay to kill your pet, because "when all other efforts fail to adequately protect your pet from a life dominated by persistent unpleasant feelings, we still have [euthanasia as] a tool that assures him full protection" (p.274).

What is not in this book: Instructions on the correct use of drills, nitroglycerine, stethoscopes, or autodialers. Unlocking the animal mind is completely unlike unlocking a bank vault.

Would you recommend this book to a locksmith? Yes, if the locksmith was interested in reading about a cat who, when signaling his desire to be petted, "would plop down on his side next to any hand he could get near and, reaching with both his front paws, grab hold of the nearby person's hand and pull it onto the top of his head, as if he were putting on a hat" (p.161).

Would you recommend this book to a serial killer? I would recommend that a serial killer keep the hell away from me.

What is interesting about this book? The inference drawn from the foreword and the opening chapter that "during the last 20 years"(p. vi), Bob Barker has entrusted his pets to a man who is fooled by mechanical dogs.
The book is also full of animal stories, both in sidebars and worked into the text, like the story about a cat that saved its kittens from a burning building (p.38), and the sheepdog who was used to long bangs blocking his eyesight, and ended up terrified of everything he could see after a new haircut (p.64).
Dr. McMillan does not feel the need to make sure that these are all happy stories, and also writes about animals like the cat who was so stricken by grief that euthanasia was the only course of action (p.76), the dog who never got over being traumatized by an earthquake(p.81), and the cat that was hit by a car and dragged itself home to die (p.106).

Digg this Stumble Upon Toolbar

August 9, 2007

Book Review: Self-Esteem Raps

Rap to Live By: Positive Rap for Kids on Love, Friendship, Self-Esteem, School, Money, Sex and much more... by Don Roberts (Hampton Roads Publishing, 1993, ISBN 1-878901-55-9)

This book was written by: Don Roberts, a TV News anchorman for WAVY-TV. When he "noticed his older daughter memorizing some intricate and questionable lyrics," he knew "something had to be done" (p.9). In response, he wrote "uplifting, positive raps that adults can use to teach their children" (back cover). "The trick," says Roberts, "was coming up with topics, writing them up in rap form that's easily adaptable to a jammin' beat, then performing them at the appropriate time."(p.9) The message of his book is that "all kids are reachable if we simply try harder to speak their language" (p.10)

What is in this book: Lyrics. Some titles include:

Love Myself (rap-a-long for elementary) (p.28)

Love Myself (rap-a-long for middle & high school) (p.29)

Fringies (Fringe benefits- reasons and rewards for not using drugs) (p.49)

Black, White, Other? (Thoughts about my brother's marriage to a German woman- shared with an organization of interracial couples and families) (p.95)

What is not in this book? Phat beats. Not that this calls into question the relative tightness of the lyrics, it merely points out that you will have to provide your own jammin' beats.

Would you recommend this book to middle-class white suburbanite youths who spend their parents' fortunes on FUBU gear and bling? Certainly. It is the number one demographic in desperate need of important lessons on respecting themselves and others.

Would you recommend this book to schoolteachers trying to reach out and make a difference in the lives of their charges? Sure, as long as they're not caught reading it.

What was interesting about this book? The topics Mr. Roberts has chosen, as well as his rhyme scheme. Here is a brief sample from his work, 10 (p. 48):

Here are 10 reasons why
You should be a drug dealer!
Crimeline will pay me big bucks when I squeal-a on you!


The population-
In prison-like old dealers Jake and Earl?
They'll make space for you cause you'll be their girl.

And in my world-
When I write about the good news that's "class"...
I'll love reporting how the neighbors kicked your ---.

Digg this Stumble Upon Toolbar

Read more reviews...