Do unto animalsDo Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better
by Tracey Stewart (Author), Lisel Ashlock (Illustrator)
Publisher: Artisan (October 20, 2015)

Short Description: The more we know about the animals in our world and the better we care for them, the better our lives will be. Former veterinary technician and animal advocate Tracey Stewart understands this better than most—and she’s on a mission to change how we interact with the animals with whom we live and share this planet – from pets in the home to backyard wildlife (above and below ground) and on the farm.

I love this book! Do Unto Animals will surely enrich family life; but this sweet manifesto of peace, love and kindness toward animals must have a place in the classroom, as well. Tracey Stewart is a peacemaker who offers a simple and beautiful truth – treat animals the way you would like to be treated, and all of our lives – yours, ours and theirs – will be better. With this book she has channeled her life-long passion for animals into a positive, proactive guide filled with love, respect, caring and compassion. The stories she relates are filled with lighthearted humor and heartfelt sincerity and underscore her deep respect for all living things. Readers will experience many love-felt connections to animals.

Expanding awareness of how best to share this world with other living beings is Tracey’s mission . . . “I’d like people to start to look at animals as individuals . . . the way most of us did as children.”  When we connect to animals with understanding, attachments develop that lead to caring. Tracey has seen the benefits of guiding her own two children in the kindest ways to live with and care for animals. Her book presents dozens of examples (with directions) of Stewart family projects that Tracey says have shown her children “the strength of their voices and actions.” Many of these are either perfect or adaptable as classroom projects; including, building bee houses, creative ways to bird-watch, mindful nature walks; recipes for bird feeders, squirrel feeders, dog biscuits, even horse cookies; shelter projects – like handmade cat and dog toys, virtual adoption campaigns, and more.

The final chapter of the book is entitled “Falling in love on the farm.” Tracey describes the farm as home to “inspiring mothers, acrobatic geniuses, intensely loyal friends and incredible intelligences.” The sentient ways of cows, goats, pigs, sheep, horses, chickens, and turkeys are lovingly explained and illustrated. If you are giving lessons on farm animals or using The Peaceable Farm in your classroom, portions of this chapter on the farm would make a great reference.

Tracey does address sad stories of animal mistreatment; however, all of these are clearly marked and written with the greatest care. Most conclude triumphantly, and are empowering stories for animal advocates – young and old.

And, finally, Do Unto Animals is superbly illustrated by the talented Lisel Ashlock. Hundreds of alluring and beautiful watercolor illustrations realistically capture the depth of feeling and intelligence of these animals. (In fact, the whole Stewart family of rescues within the last 5 years is illustrated on the inside cover and title page of the book.) The book includes a detailed index and list of resources.

While I’ve seen many descriptions of this book as a great gift for animal lovers, I would describe it as a hugely important read for, well . . . all of us!