Book Review: Jasmine

Image of the book Jasmine, depicting two children petting and hugging a cat.

Today’s book review comes by way of my 5-year-old daughter.  Here is the backstory…

Our elementary school celebrated César Chávez Day on March 31. It’s a state holiday in California for the Mexican-American labor leader and civil rights activist. The day is commemorated through community service.

Each grade level performed a service project for the community or one that built school pride. Second graders cleaned up a walking trail, fifth graders worked in a community garden, and so forth.

First graders collected donations from school families to assemble hygiene kits for homeless advocate Betty Chinn (Oprah watchers know her).

Chinn later gave a talk at the school about her childhood persecution in China under Mao Zedong and the life lessons she has learned. She essentially lived homeless, eating garbage, and not talking until she was 4-years-old. Chinn eventually walked 1,000 miles to Hong Kong, and then found her way to America. In the US, she had the following observation: “Sesame Street became my best friend. [I learned that] if Oscar the Grouch can be happy living in garbage, I can be happy too.”

Anyhow… my daughter’s kindergarten class project was reading books to seniors from a neighboring assisted living facility. The students could bring their own book or read a classroom book, so my daughter jumped at the chance.

She chose a home book from a series by the Humane Society of the United States that she has enjoyed since she was about three-years-old. Some of the stories detail the real experiences of abused animals and their rescue and rehabilitation. Other stories detail real experiences of wild animals, such as a manatee or grizzly bear.

I enjoy the illustrations in the series, most color pencil drawings by Randy Houk, who also authored the books. A few of the books have other authors and illustrators featuring painted scenes.

My daughter’s review is below. She typed it on an old laptop we picked up for free (thanks Craigslist!). She referred to it as her “work” as in, “Can I use my computer Papa? I need to do my work.”

She also learned the importance of proper back-up procedures when she lost most of her review and had to retype it. We haven’t begun her computer education, so she types quite slow. The following review was composed over several sessions over several days:

[review begins]

A book called Jasmine: a true story from the Northeast Animal Shelter.

Written and illustrated by Randy Houk.  The Humane Society of the United States.

“Jasmine was a city cat.
She stayed in, and that was that.
She had water, she had kibble.
She could sip at will or nibble.
She had no need for kitty sitters.
She’d just use her kitty litter.
She had learned to wait all day.
While her owners worked, she’d play.”

I like it because it tells you what will happen to your pet if you leave it by itself too long or if you move away and leave it there.

She lived in the city. She stays home. When her owners moved away and left her there, she got skinny, then a different person moved in and saw she was too skinny and took her to the vet and then took her to the pound. Thank you for reading. By Little Miss.

[review ends]

In summary, Jasmine’s owners move out of their apartment, but leave Jasmine trapped inside. She survives licking water from a leaky bathtub faucet and eats bird seed from a bag she rips open. The landlord is in the hospital and doesn’t discover the cat until it’s near death. He takes Jasmine to the vet to recover, but she won’t eat. They mix bird seed into her food to entice her back to health.  Then, at the Humane Society shelter she is adopted to a family with children who play with her. The last page has a photo of the real Jasmine.

The bad news is that this book series is discontinued. Here are used sale links via You can also find some of them used on Amazon.

  1. Jasmine (cat abandoned in an apartment)
  2. Chessie, the Travelin’ Man (A manatee that travels well beyond his Florida home, as far north as Connecticut)
  3. Ruffle, Coo and Hoo Doo (owls and escaped parrots that live in the same tree)
  4. Chocolate, a Glacier Grizzly (a bear gets too close to humans and is air-lifted to a remote area by forest rangers)
  5. Star Comes Home (a pony given as a birthday gift isn’t cared for and goes through several homes until it finds a loving owner. )
  6. Freefall: A Sea Turtle Falls from the Sky (a baby turtle is snatched by a seagull, then it falls onto a windshield. He is raised by humans and then returned to the sea)
  7. Hope (a pig raised in poor conditions is abandoned because she’s unsellable due to health problems, but is discovered and adopted to a farm where she is kept as a pet)
  8. Bentley and Blueberry (A dog owner rescues a stray from the animal shelter to be a companion for her existing dog)
  9. Kirsty’s Surprise (a lame baby cow is taken to a farm sanctuary where it greets school kids)
  10. Wolves in Yellowstone (the story of wolves being reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park)

(There could be more titles. These are just the ones we own.)

Do you have any children’s books you’d recommend that promote animal welfare?


15 Responses to “Book Review: Jasmine”

  1. Judy B says:

    A favorite of me and my siblings was Ferdinand the Friendly Bull. Wonderful drawings…and touches on bull fighting in Spain (where they use the real barbed sticks).

    April 12th, 2010 at 7:46 am

  2. Becky says:

    Dear Daughter of Thingamababy,

    Thank you for writing this review. It makes me want to buy this book for my daughter. I hope you will write more reviews, because I like to find out about books that kids like to read.

    April 12th, 2010 at 7:53 am

  3. Meadow says:

    This was a great book review. We have a cat that adopted us when we bought our house. Instead of taking him to the pound, we kept him and now he is our pet.

    You should keep writing articles, and especially keep reading books.

    April 12th, 2010 at 8:13 am

  4. anjii says:

    This is a wonderful review! It really helped me understand what the book is about, and why it would be good to read it. Thank you very much!

    April 12th, 2010 at 9:46 am

  5. Allison says:

    Great review! I bet my son would really enjoy this book.


    April 12th, 2010 at 9:56 am

  6. Martha says:

    Thanks for the book review! My daughter loves cats and I think she’ll appreciate the book when she gets a bit older, like you. We have a rescue cat from the SPCA.

    April 12th, 2010 at 10:44 am

  7. Inki says:

    Dear Little Miss,

    Thank you for the great book review! Jasmine sounds like a good book that I would like to read to my little girls someday. I am very impressed with the poem, it’s not often that you see book reviews that rhyme!
    I hope you will review more books for us in the future.

    April 12th, 2010 at 11:39 am

  8. Emily in Texas says:

    This sounds like a great book. I will look at my library for it! Thanks for sharing your opinion with all of Thingadad’s readers.

    April 12th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

  9. P.A. says:

    Dear Little Miss,

    I really enjoyed your book review. It was very helpful in letting me know if I would enjoy checking out the book at the library.

    I have a question for you if you would like to answer it. I was wondering what you think would be important to tell other children about reading to people at nursing homes. I really like this idea, and I am curious what someone who has never done this should know, if anything. Thank you!

    April 12th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

  10. Auntie M says:

    Dear Little Miss, Because I am your aunt, I am a little biased and think that everything you do is amazing. But, I really enjoyed your book report. You got to the gist of the story and made me want to hear more. I think you should keep reading books, writing and posting book reports. Auntie M.

    April 12th, 2010 at 8:07 pm

  11. Tim says:

    Hi Little Miss,

    You did such a great job telling us about this book. I have a son who is five. Do you have any tips for how I can encourage him to write?


    April 13th, 2010 at 7:47 am

  12. Lara says:

    Hi Thank you for the informative book review. I bet the people at the nursing home enjoyed you reading the book.

    April 14th, 2010 at 4:31 am

  13. HappyMom says:

    Dear Little Miss

    Thank you for the wonderful book review. We listened to Bentley and Blueberry on tape. My daughter is even older than you, but she has a hard time writing. She wants to learn to use the computer. You have showed me what a good idea that is.

    April 14th, 2010 at 10:39 pm

  14. LooneyJen says:

    Hi Little Miss,

    My daughter is just a bit younger than you and loves anything and everything about cats. I read the review to her and she said it sounded like a book she would enjoy. We hope to find it at our library soon. Thank you for all of your work reviewing this book. You worked very hard!

    April 15th, 2010 at 8:12 am

  15. Dallas says:

    Dear Little Miss:

    What a wonderful review! My little girl loves cats too, but we have a dog. She also loves to read, and I hope one day, when she’s older, she can write book reviews too. She’s only 2 years old now, so she can’t write much, yet!

    I am very impressed with your writing skills, and it was so nice of you to share the book with elderly people. My Grandmother was in an assisted living community, and loved it when she had visitors. I’ll bet your visit made someone’s day! Keep up the great work!


    April 16th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

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