Skunked (Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet #1) by Jacqueline Kelly, illustrated by Teagan White and Jennifer L. Meyer.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): When soft-hearted Travis discovers an abandoned baby skunk, he can’t help but bring him home and take care of him. Stinky, as Travis names him, settles in pretty well. But when Travis discovers Stinky’s litter-mate, Winky, who is in need of some help, things get complicated around the Tate house. One skunk is a piece of cake; two is just asking for trouble. Will Travis and Callie be able to keep the critters away from Mother’s careful eyes―and nose?
Review: Calpurnia Tate was first introduced in the Calpurnia Tate series written for a middle school-aged audience. I absolutely loved that series and wrote about them already in this blog post. This is a spinoff, Girl Vet, which is written for a younger audience, just starting chapter books. While I enjoyed this book, I won’t be reading any other in the series (5 books as of now). Mainly because I think the storyline will be similar for each book – Travis wants to take wild animals as pets, and Calpurnia must help him – and my son doesn’t seem too interested in storylines about helping wild animals.
Discussion: Children’s books have a tendency to be about animals, which is fun as I am an animal lover. I think discussing animals with our children is vital because, as a society, we have a tendency to elevate our pets to a child status, using terms like ‘furkids’ as opposed to ‘my pet.’ We MUST be loving, kind, and caring to all of God’s creation, but we also should keep in the proper order of creation. I briefly covered this topic in my Bad Kitty’s Complete Purrfect Boxed Set post.
Pv 12:10 The just man takes care of his beast, but the heart of the wicked is merciless.
I think this book does a great job of showing the love required for God’s creation and keeping them in the proper order created by God. For example, this book was about skunks and Travis ensuring their survival, but ultimately recognizing they belonged in the wild when they were able to take care of themselves. The family dog is treated as a dog should be (with love, compassion, and care), but is not elevated to the status of one of the children.
Points to stress with children about animals:
- God created all animals, and they are good and loved by God – Gn 1 and Ws 11:24
- Animals bring God glory and praise – Ps 148 and Ps 150
- God calls humans to care for animals, and this is not to be a “destructive domination” – Gn 1:28 and CCC 373.
- God cares for animals and humans must show them kindness CCC 2416
- Humans are stewards of man and may be used in just purposes – Gn 2:19-20, 9:1-4, and CCC 2417.
- Humans should never cause animals to suffer or die needlessly – CCC 2418
- Money should first be spent to relieve human misery and not on wasteful pet products – CCC 2418
- Love of pets should not be elevated to the love of neighbor – CCC 2418
- It is morally acceptable to eat animals – Gn 9:3 and 1 Cor 10: 25-27
The Compendium gives a brief summary of these points, “People must treat animals with kindness as creatures of God and avoid both excessive love for them and indiscriminate use of them, especially by scientific experiments that go beyond reasonable limits and entail needless suffering for the animals” (#507).
How these points are applied in specific situations can be up to debate and discussion, and I have struggled with applying these concepts often.