If you are creative and care about the welfare of animals, what can you do? If you’re Valerie Ingram and Alistair Schroff, you write children’s picture books. Both Nobody’s Cats and Out of the Cold are based on true stories from northwest British Columbia and profits from the sale of the book go towards the care of animals in that region.
Nobody’s Cats tells the tale of a boy who saw a tiny black cat shivering in the snow by an old shed. The cat was just one of many that had been born or abandoned there. A few of the neighborhood boys threw rocks, but one boy stood up for the cats. He even asked adults what he could do to help. A guest who came to his school that spring told the boy that the cats were community cats and showed him how to help. The rest of the story, inspired by two girls who one winter saw cats suffering near their home, tells of how neighbors worked together to bring food and shelter to the cats. In real life, the two girls contacted the local Lakes Animal Friendship Society and then shared what they learned with classmates. Together with their fellow students, the girls raised not only awareness but also funds to cover costs of spaying and neutering the local homeless cats.
Out of the Cold tells the tale of Molly, a dog whose family kept her chained outside. One day Molly broke free from her yard and tragedy stuck. She was hit by a car. Out of that disaster, however, came some positive results. While at the vet, the family learned of a program that helps with the spay/neuter costs for families in need. In addition, the kids brainstormed and came up with the idea of building a dog house. The rest of the story, inspired by two volunteers with Lakes Animal Friendship Society who knew of too many incidents of dogs freezing to death in the cold northern climate, tells of how the kids shared their idea at shop class and soon the whole class was building outdoor houses for other dogs and cats. In real life, the two volunteers anonymously delivered dog houses due to being uncertain about how their gift would be received. They soon discovered that folks simply lacked resources to build shelters and so the volunteers had an opportunity to educate them about the importance of shelter for animals.
Both picture books include artwork from children in the northwest British Columbia region. Out of the Cold also includes professional illustrations. Each book, besides including an explanation of how they were inspired, also shares ways that people can get involved to help animals. Nobody’s Cats overviews what community cats are and how Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) works. Out of the Cold, while promoting the goal of all pets living indoors, recognizes that other options such as all-weather shelters are needed. One can visit the Lakes Animal Friendship Society to find more information about TNR and instructions to building shelters.
I first heard of Nobody’s Cats through an online Trap-Neuter-Release Community. After I wrote Valerie Ingram to purchase a copy, we stayed in touch. A former teacher like me, she now dedicates most of her time to volunteer work with Lakes Animal Friendship Society. She helps with their creative ventures such as newsletters, but also with the hands-on activities, and is an inspiration to me. I’m honored to introduce you to her educational and entertaining books.