A Pet's Life
by Anita Ganeri
My daughter, almost four years old, wants a pet of her own. I feel she's not old enough to take care of a pet by herself (or avoid squeezing it to death). So I agreed (stalling) we will just begin by learning about different kinds of small pets now, and find out which is most suitable, for when she is older. Today we checked out a small pile of juvenile nonfiction titles on keeping fish and small mammals. I don't want the responsibility of a puppy yet (or ever, I'm more fond of cats) and I have no experience with reptiles or birds, so this seemed a good place to start.
The first title I read to her was A Pet's Life: Goldfish. It was perfectly suited to her age and scope of interest. It gives very basic information on how to choose a healthy goldfish, set up the tank, feed it properly and keep its environment clean. All in brief paragraphs with simple sentences and bright photographs. We were both pleasantly surprised to learn that you can feed a goldfish fresh chopped lettuce or spinach. At the end of the book is a brief list of facts (and suggestions for further reading)- my daughter didn't want to hear them, she'd already got all the info she needed! But I found a few things interesting- like that the Chinese first kept pet goldfish 4,500 years ago and the oldest living goldfish survived to the incredible age of fifty. Average lifespan of a well-cared for goldfish is about 25 years. This was news to me- the ones in our house growing up were always rather short-lived (weeks alone in the fishbowl, never more than a year or two when I had a proper tank). So apparently I've got more learning to do as well, if we're going to keep fish!
Rating: 3/5 ........ 32 pages, 2003