Sunny Weber - Book Reviews

In this segment of “Humane Education through Storytelling” we will examine the roll of parents, educators, counselors, and humane educators in reaching and turning potential young animal abusers into caring, respectful pet custodians.

Reading life-like stories about animals and seeing the world through those animals’ eyes can engage youthful empathy and motivate conversations with trusted adults. Children who are hesitant readers or have learning disabilities like dyslexia, may also find pleasant escape through inventive stories that have subtle lessons of life.

The Pups & Purrs Children’s Humane Education books are designed with large font, illustrations of action scenes, and limit “busyness” on each page to not intimidate young readers who are easily overwhelmed by complex pages of print. Not only are the stories timeless and relevant, they all have happy endings—eliminating the turn-off for those who avoid sad, dark, or hopeless books. Reading about animals is a far cry from dystopian, horror, or far-fetched fantasy themes. Adults can relax and trust the stories and children can become engrossed with the protagonist dogs’ challenges.

The Pups & Purrs series is subtly didactic, with lessons coming from the animal characters’ experiences and musings in their lives. Each book in the series features classic coming of age stories with multi-layered themes and messages for a wide variety of readers.

Pups & Purrs Audience (includes but is not limited to)

  • Middle-Grade readers (ages 8-14).
  • Young readers who dislike/have difficulty with reading, by providing intriguing stories, in easy-to-read formats, with charming illustrations.
  • Parents who want to be able to share reading experiences with their children.
  • Teachers who seek user-friendly tools to encourage students to read.
  • Counselors who need animal character bridges to assist troubled children open up about their own life challenges—while identifying with the story characters.
  • Humane Educators who can share animal stories in shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries when children visit or volunteer.

How to use the series:

Ages 7-10 will enjoy the surface of the stories; ages 10-13 will begin to see the messages; ages 13 and up will begin to identify with the deeper themes. All ages will enjoy the colorful characters, exciting events, and happy endings.

Each stand-alone story reflects issues children experience. The animal characters give voice to emotions that children often cannot. The animal characters also go through challenges that children do, such as bullying, isolation, feelings of insecurity, seeking a sense of belonging, etc. They search for solutions to their dilemmas, teach goal-setting, and rejoice in victory.

Take a look at the discussion guide on the Dog at the Gate landing page at for ideas on how you can draw a child into helpful conversations about similar challenges in their own lives. The Discussion Guide can be adapted for all the books as you reach out to engage the young people in your life. Very young children do not know how to verbalize their emotions until guided by a trusted adult, and indirect discussion of someone else’s (the protagonist dog’s) similar challenges can often provide  a “safe” opportunity for children to then voice their own trepidations.

The main goals of the series are:

A major goal  of the series is to turn potential animal abusers around–avoiding the inevitable escalation to violence against people. Children begin abusing animals when they are abused, or see violence modeled in the adults around them. The Pups & Purrs series seeks to give children more constructive options through humane awareness of animals as sentient, emotional, intelligent beings.

By listening to children, becoming aware of their needs and the ways they see their own worlds, and by compassionately encouraging them to express themselves, we will open emotional doors before they are slammed shut and locked against adolescent pain. We can accomplish these feats with the other Pups & Purrs Series goals:

1) To help children who have difficulty verbalizing their life stresses but who can identify with animals. The animal characters experience the same issues: e.g.:  social isolation, personal identity conflicts, bullying, rejection, lack of power, decision-making, and growing up challenges.

2) To provide humane education for children: teaching what animals need; to develop empathy; seeking to see the world through animal eyes; assisting in the early development of altruism and compassion.

3) To teach through storytelling and entertainment: to encourage enthusiastic reading by featuring colorful characters and engrossing stories.

4) To develop early problem-solving abilities/analytical thinking:  the animal characters show how to set goals and develop step-by-step accomplishments to attain those goals. They face the consequences of their decisions and grow in personal responsibility.

5) To promote the humane treatment of all creatures and the environment by furnishing tools for parents, teachers, counselors, and humane educators at home, school, in therapeutic settings, and at animal rescue environments.

The downloadable Discussion Guide on The Dog at the Gate landing page can assist trusted adults in reaching children through idea exchanges, using the animal characters as launch points for talks about sensitive subjects.

The Author’s Personal Pups & Purrs Goals

My goal with the Pups & Purrs Humane Education Series is to provide fictional animal friends who experience what children do, such as bullying, ridicule, rejection, insecurity, and the universal seeking of acceptance.

By utilizing “first pup” (person) telling, I strive to help young readers see the world through the protagonist dog’s eyes, mind, and heart—thereby tapping into inborn empathy, before the world teaches that child to bury his or her kindness. Having the dogs go through conflicts young human readers may experience first-hand, I hope that my audience can see there are other ways to deal with frustration, trauma, and betrayal.

Finding your true self is difficult work, even as an adult. Beginning on the journey of self-discovery as an emotionally developing young person can be daunting. Challenges include decision making, taking responsibility for self, and dealing with the consequences of one’s own actions. These are crucial stepping stones to developing personal integrity.

The characters and stories in the Pups & Purrs Children’s Humane Education Series aim to create make-believe worlds that are not foreign but that do help children see there are ways out of the ageless dilemmas all must go through to grow up.


In our third installment of “Humane Education Through Storytelling” we will examine each book in the Pups & Purrs Series and look closely at the themes, messages, lessons, and challenges each story presents to young readers.

For more information go to

The entire Pups & Purrs Children’s Humane Education Series books are available on Amazon.


Sunny Weber

Sunny Weber

Sunny has over 25 years’ experience in pet rescue, humane education, shelter & sanctuary work, service dog training, obedience competition, dog & cat fostering, pet medical care, horse ground training and has authored articles and books in several fields.

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