Thanks for Telling Me, Emily by Deirdre Madden

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Thanks for Telling Me, Emily by Deirdre Madden

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A heart-warming story about a pet shop and the animals (and people) inside. It will probably appeal more to girls than to boys but there's a valuable message about the responsibilities which come with owning an animal which can be appreciated by everyone. Recommended.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: June 2008
Publisher: Orchard
ISBN: 978-1846163326

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Keira is only eight years old but she's going to have an exciting summer. She's come to stay with her Aunt Emily to help out in her pet shop in Gillnacurry, which sounds as though it's the most beautiful village in the whole of Ireland. Aunt Emily's cottage is covered in ivy and looks as though it's wearing a thick woolly sweater. What excites Keira most though are the animals who live in the pet shop.

There's Mulvey the cat who lives in an old wicker basket with a tartan blanket and Noreen the snake who is warm and smooth and feels just like a handbag. The mice are called Milly, Tilly, Billy and Willy but very few people can tell them apart. Captain Cockle is a parrot dressed in some very magnificent feathers and Bubbles is a Yorkshire Terrier. Along with Betty the hamster they all live happily together with perhaps just a little bit of friendly teasing now and then.

All goes well – and there are even a few additions to the pet shop – until the arrival of Mrs Henrietta Fysshe-Pye who has pots of money and has bought the local castle. She and her son, Ryan, want some pets to fill the place up a bit. Ryan would like to have Presto, the white rabbit, and Alexander and Aloysius the marmalade kittens, but his mother is determined to have Mulvey, Bubbles and Captain Cockle, despite Keira and Emily's attempts to persuade her otherwise. But life in the castle is not all it might be and it's not long before there's a mass escape planned.

I enjoyed this book. It could have been corny but wasn't. I did wonder if Finbarr – who dotes on Emily and has a business called Finbarr's Feeds for all your animal's needs might push the book a little too far into the realms of chick-lit-for-children and I was forced to conclude that it will be enjoyed more by girls than by boys. Unfortunately there are a few pages at the end (weddings, bridesmaids and babies) which will elicit the usual eurgh from the average ten year-old boy. Apart from this the book will be enjoyed by any child with a love of animals.

The characters are well done. Finbarr is tall and thin and seems incapable of getting himself dressed, with the failings being pointed out by Emily – hence the title of the book. But it's the animals who really bring the book alive and have definite personalities of their own. I've always been terrified of snakes and can't usually even read about them, but I actually warmed to Noreen and felt rather sad that people were frightened of her. Mulvey the cat is the unofficial leader and he's paternalistic and caring – but not beyond playing the occasional trick on the other animals.

There's a quiet message in the book about the amount of care which an animal needs and the responsibility which comes with ownership. Animals need to be adequately fed and housed. You can't keep a sheep and a goat as house pets – unless you're particularly tolerant about what they'll leave on the carpet and the fact that they might well eat the furniture. More exotic animals bring their own problems and might prove to be uncontrollable. You'll laugh at the stories but the underlying message is no less true because you might have tears running down your face.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Animal-loving children will enjoy If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today by Dougal Dixon but for more animal stories we can recommend Beryl Goes Wild by Jane Simmons.

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Buy Thanks for Telling Me, Emily by Deirdre Madden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Thanks for Telling Me, Emily by Deirdre Madden at


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