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Veterinarian Review by Melissa Theberge

William David Thomas
Gareth Stevens Publishing
1 Reader's Digest Rd.
Pleasantville, NY 10570-7000

If you know a young child who has expressed an interest in becoming a veterinarian, then this book is worth a look. This 32-page softcover is part of a series about careers that involve helping others. The first chapter covers typical pet problems, and the remaining chapters touch on each of four types of veterinarians: pet vets, large animal vets, wild animal vets, and vet techs. This high-interest book is designed to appeal to children in the third grade, but it would be helpful to an older child who wishes to explore this career option. It could be incorporated into a homeschool setting in a number of ways, such as during animal studies or while learning about community helpers.

The book delves into the details of on-the-job reality, including preventive care, medicines, surgery, and even how severely wounded animals are cared for. Sharp, engaging photographs of animals being cared for in a variety of settings add interest to every page. Explanatory captions make it easy to connect the photos to the main text on the page. Children often think vets work only in our local animal hospitals, but stories of a vet working with a killer whale and another caring for milk cows offer a broader perspective.

Several sections in the book help the reader determine if this career is worth considering. Within the first chapter there is a short set of questions to consider, such as "Do you love animals and want to help them?" and "Are you calm and patient?" These questions could lead to a good discussion with parents. Another interesting feature is the "Career Fact File" page, which includes projections for this field in the coming years, a summary of what the job involves, the level of education required, and salary estimates. In addition, a list of books and websites is provided for further research. Important scientific vocabulary words are in bold print and are also found in a glossary where they are more thoroughly defined.

My one concern as I read this book with my own children was that the topics of surgery and "putting down" an animal might be emotional for youngsters who do not have experience with pets of their own. The photos depict reality, and while they are not inappropriate, in two cases they show animals undergoing a surgical procedure with tubes and other apparatus in the photo. My recommendation would be to read along with your child if this concern resonates with you.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for its depth and detail. We may not have any future veterinarians in our family, but we have enjoyed learning about how veterinarians care for animals in so many different ways.

Product review by Melissa Theberge, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009