Monday, November 25, 2013

One Big Happy Unexpected Family

Upstairs, down the hall, through one room, and into the library. I love naming spaces, giving them a sort of upgraded status through nomenclature. Our "shed?" No, it's a barn. Our "backyard?" No, it's a farm The "garage?" We call it the workshop... well, no, actually we call it the "garage," but the carport is for sure a workshop. They say we should not judge a book by it's cover, and I think a space can be more than we expect, especially if we give it the star treatment, raise our expectations, and make believe a bit. The long, dark, narrow and cramped space upstairs... oh, yes, that's our library.

Spaces can be more than we expect, books can hold more than what we see on the cover. No one should be pigeonholed or typecast... it limits the possibilities. I like to keep my mind open when it comes to people... what they might do, who they can be, what they will strive for and succeed with. It's such a great experience to observe a child challenging themselves with something unexpected, trying something new, and it would be a huge loss if we didn't keep the hope of potential open, if we didn't raise our expectations, and even make believe a bit. We make believe we have a library, and it is a library. We imagine our shed is a barn, a summer house, a fort, a castle, a snowed-in cabin, and it is.

Lisa Rogak contacted me, and asked if I would like to see her new book...? it has chickens in it, after all! Lisa Rogak is a New York Times best selling author, and her newest book is One Big Happy Family: Heartwarming Stories of Animals Caring for One Another.

"One Big Happy Family contains 47 inspiring, true tales of interspecies adoptions, some between animals that are normally considered predator and prey, like a cat adopting chicks and a foxhound nursing a litter of fox kits. other combinations are just out and out weird, like a labrador and a baby hippo, a chicken and her puppies, and a rabbit and a kitten, while more "conventional" combinations include a dog and a kitten and a cow and a lamb."

How could I resist?

About as soon as the book arrived, Maria and I were utterly smitten, and engrossed. With every turn of the page we were sighing, and marveling at the warmth and love that animals share. None of us is untouched by a mother dog with her puppies, a hen with her chicks, but what happens when we see the unexpected in an animal? How about a hen that helps raise a litter of Rottweiler puppies? Picture a male boxer named Billy taking a kid under his wing? One Big Happy Family is full of these stories, these true stories, of all kinds of unexpected families, brought together by a willingness of animals to try something new, to reserve the judgement, and just love. Do they make believe those cute chicks are kittens, do they simply not judge at all? Every story is unique, every combination is a surprise. And it all reminds me how great it is to keep our expectations high, to let new possibilities develop... it works with spaces, books, people, and animals, too.

Oh, yes, there was a lot of sighing and cooing, and emotional elation coming from me and Maria, and we had to share each new story with anyone within earshot. But, I'd like to add that beyond the cuteness, the undeniable adorableness of these adopted families, like a dog who stays home to raise his flock of chicks, the stories are genuine, thoughtfully shared, not overly simplified. The cuteness is from the honest moments, the sincere telling of these interesting and compelling choices made by these animals.

I am so glad Lisa Rogak offered to send us this copy of One Big Happy Family. It's an uplifting book, cute and funny, too. Seeing those animals behaving so generously, and with such open minds and hearts is compelling, inspiring. I like that this is a book a small child can enjoy, someone Maria's age can reflect on and appreciate, and that it's engaging for me, too. No one is paying me, or twisting my arm to say this, honest: I can think of all kinds of friends, children, teens, and adults who would love One Big Happy Family.


Jennifer said...

Lovely! Sounds like a perfect gift for my niece and nephews! Love how you've chosen to share the story, and can't wait to see the book in person.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit, I've always had a weak spot for these one-species-raising-another-species stories. They're fascinating. Especially when they cross natural predator-prey boundaries. Looks like an interesting book... David.

judy in ky said...

As you probably know, animals are dear to my heart. I will be looking for this book, to share with my favorite people at Christmas. My favorite people love animals too.

Anonymous said...

This looks like a great book to snuggle up with. I'll be buying at least two (one for me).


Anonymous said...

Aaaawww.... too cute!

Anonymous said...

Love the chair! The fabric is perfect for a library. The book sounds like a perfect Christmas gift. Thank you for sharing!