Six tail-wagging, melt-your-heart stories of loyal, lost, playful and cuddly pets from the author of Nim's Island.
Wendy Orr was born in Edmonton, Canada, and spent her childhood in various places across Canada, France and the USA, but wherever she lived, there were lots of stories, adventures and animals. Once, when her family sailed to a new home, the dogs wore life-jackets, but the guinea pigs had to stay in their cages. When she grew up and had her own family, she still had cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and horses at different times - and always dogs. Her most recent dog is Harry, an occasionally naughty but always delightful poodle-cross that she adopted from the Lort Smith Animal Shelter. Harry had a very bad start to life and Wendy and her husband feel very lucky that he has come to live with them, and that they can all be happy together.
Wendy is the author of a number of award-winning books, including Nim's Island, Nim at Sea, Mokie and Bik, The Princess and her Panther, Raven's Mountain and for teenagers, Peeling the Onion.
Books are expensive. We all know it. Some of us turn to eBooks to keep costs down but for many it is simply not the same. Books are expensive – so when you get good value in a book, it is reason to rejoice. You’ll be rejoicing over Rainbow Street Pets by the talented Wendy Orr. It represents great value for money as you get six complete chapter books in one volume. Yes, you heard right – six books for just a little more than the price of one, at $19.99. Centring on the Rainbow Street Shelter for animals, these heart-warming stories will be an instant hit among middle and senior primary school students who love animals. There are so many characters to love at the Shelter: a Border collie called Bear who is lost and then found, a friendly dog called Nelly and her guinea pig friends, a pony called Peebles, Buster, the marmalade cat and even a lion cub called Kiki. The children in these books think, act and talk like real Australian children and their adventures are believable. The animals, of course, are simply adorable.
Rainbow Street Pets would be a great read aloud book for years 3and 4. Students would enjoy
reading the book on their own too and perhaps writing their own Rainbow Street stories. How about a tale of a turtle?
Jo McDougall, Geelong, VIC
What a great novel. This novel has six pet stories in one. The six pet tails are from the same author of Nim’s Island, so you can tell already, that the stories are going to be good. The six stories are all set at the rainbow street shelter for animals. The rainbow street shelter welcomes al pets lost, unwanted or in need of love. Rainbow street shelter is where a cockatoo will greet you and a little round dog will make you feel welcome. The six stories titled lost dog bear, Nelly and the dream guinea pig, Moan the lion cub, Buster the hero cat, stolen! A pony called Pebbles and the Bella the bored beagle are all very entertaining and fun. My class really enjoyed Mona the lion cub, because how cool would it be too have a lion cub as a pet or maybe not.
My class really enjoyed this novel. We read the novel as a class group during quiet time and tried to read a few chapters each session. The children really enjoyed the characters and the adventures of all the animals. I really enjoyed this novel because not only does it have great stories but it also has lots of information about caring for pets, microchipping, the right diet for pets and responsibility of caring for animals. Most importantly, the book explains what animal shelters are for and why they are so important. This book was great for my class to listen to, but only a few chapters at a time as the class lost focus a little. I would recommend this book to children aged 5 and up as a shared story, or children aged 8 and up if they want to read alone. After we read the novel, we had a group discussion about our local animal shelter and what we could do if we found or lost a pet. We also decided to visit the local shelter and take along some dog and cat food donations. We also drew pictures of our pets or the pets we would like to have, I apparently have encouraged lots of children wanting crocodiles and emus as pets. Overall, a very lovely book about our best friends, our pets.
Wendy Orr’s Rainbow Street Pets is a collection of six stories all based around an animal shelter
called Rainbow Street Animal Shelter. Pets of all kinds are found at the shelter and a variety of owners and volunteers go through the shelter for a variety of reasons. It begins with Lachlan losing his best friend, Bear, as he moves to the city with his mum. Hannah’s dad finds him but insists on taking him to the animal shelter, much to Hannah’s dismay. All Hannah wants is a dog of her own but her parents are reluctant to give in. Hannah becomes a volunteer at the shelter and by chance meets Lachlan at school and discovers he is Bear’s owner.
The next five stories all have the shelter in common in one way or another. A variety of different animals also inhabit the shelter from guinea pigs to kittens. Mona, who works at the shelter, has loved animals her whole life and she is lucky enough to work with them every day. She sets out to rescue a lion cub and send it back to Africa in one of the stories. This book will really appeal to any animal lover. It is easy to read and even though it looks like a large book it has six distinct stories in it. Good for out loud reading to the class, particularly for years 3 or 4.
Kathy Hotz, Hercules Road State School, QLD
Rainbow Street Pets is a delightful read for Middle Primary School students and absolutely perfect for pet-obsessed children. There are a few parts sadness matched with lots of heart-warming happiness. The six stories can stand-alone, but are cleverly woven together to link the characters’ lives, hopes and histories. There are lessons to learn about responsible pet ownership, care and handling with a strong focus on the special connections and companionship possible between people and animals. The stories include hints of children’s perspectives on divorce, ageing, loss or death of a pet, but these are handled very quietly and sensitively. Rainbow Street Pets also provides messages of children being proactive and involved in their communities through volunteering and helping others. To add excitement, there are stolen horses, airport sniffer dogs, animal rescues and even a circus. A great book choice for students that are just starting chapter books, especially if they are interested in animals. The book would be a good ‘read-aloud’ novel for enjoyment and to settle a Middle-Primary school class after lunch, as well as being an appealing book as part of classroom ‘mini’ library with its animal-filled front cover. It may lead children onto reading other successful novels by Wendy Orr-the author of Nim’s Island. It might also make your students go home and beg their families for a pet of their very own!
Sandra Hillier Pre-service teacher-La Trobe University, Bendigo, VIC
This big fat book is just the ticket for younger independent readers who love animal stories. Wendy Orr has written six delightful stories which link together through the setting of the Rainbow Street animal shelter.
Each story has familiar characters such as Mona who runs the shelter, Nelly the dog that can befriend all animals and people, Gulliver the talking cockatoo and Bert the helper at the shelter. Along the way we meet many other characters and pets such as guinea pigs, ponies, cats, dogs, rabbits, a goat and even a lion. Amidst all this the reader can learn a lot about pet care, animal shelters, volunteering, responsibility, bravery, sharing, friendship, family separation, death and love – just to mention a few of the themes in the stories.
Wendy Orr brings these themes into the stories in a most gentle way, without being didactic. This would be a perfect book to read and discuss as a class serial for years two and three in particular. Each of the stories is broken down into shorter chapters of about 5 pages making each chapter easy to access. Students will easily relate to situations in the book and could discuss their own personal experiences and compare them with those of characters in the book. Many of the themes touched upon in this book give students examples of how children in the stories relate to others, develop resilience and a sense of self-worth, resolve conflict, engage in teamwork and feel positive about themselves and the world around them. These are all part of the new curriculum and as such this book is highly recommended for school libraries. Also ideal as an addition to the home collection of the young animal lover!
Ruth Jones, Alice Springs
Any reader who picks up this book will know from the cover it is about animals - all kinds of animals. The link between the animal stories is the Rainbow Street Shelter where found animals are taken or lost animals are looked for. The author intertwines Mona who runs the shelter into the other stories too and the reader finds out why Mona owns the Shelter.
The images of the lead animals is just inside the cover and this linked to the story headings
encourages the reader to choose the stories to read in order of their favourite animals rather than in straight through. The interest the stories generate ensure that all stories are read. The short chapters within the story make each story available to many readers especially competent grade 2 readers and up. It would also be suitable as a read aloud book to the class.
The characterization of the children in each story sits well with readers who share their passion for the animals. The reader feels their desire to own the pet and may share the reasons why they can’t. The book also covers family relationships in a gentle way which would resonate with many readers.
A key teaching idea for this book would be the care and responsibilities of owning a pet. The book also teaches why choosing a pet that suits your family is a very important thing and that volunteering is a very rewarding job to take on.
Roxanne Steenbergen, Windermere Primary School, TAS
There is such a strong range of characters (both human and animal) threaded through these six tales of animal adventure. And each story comes back to the central hub at the Rainbow Street Shelter, where the relationships between pets and people is intertwined. The reader gets a definite sense of how important it is to both the children and adult characters in the stories to care for each of the animals portrayed, even when there is danger, opposition and even embarrassment! Josh overcomes his own fear of standing in front of assembly to make a plea to find Buster the Hero Cat who has gone missing; “Because Buster’s a lot more scared than I am” Josh reasons. And in doing so he takes the heat of teasing but also wins some keen admirers and fellow animal lovers in, Hannah and Lachlan. Then there’s Mona, who runs the shelter and provides what I think is the best story of the six, with ‘Mona and the Lion Cub.’ This story sets up a powerful foundation of her family heritage of deeply caring for struggling animals and finding the best solutions for Kiki the cub in her care, despite the emotional cost. The reader is constantly trying to find how each of the characters can successfully aid the animal which is ‘on their heart’ to help. Any activity in the classroom that explores the characters and links between each of the stories, as well as the characters’ emotional journeys would be useful to help students discover how the writer builds tension and resolution into the stories to make them such an enjoyable read.
Elaine Reber, Auckland, New Zealand
The six interwoven stories about the animals and people involved in the Rainbow Street animal
shelter will delight and entertain all those children who love animals and those who long for a pet themselves. Each story has a different animal as their main character from a dog that becomes lost on his way to a new home, Buster the cat who keeps his owner alive after he falls and loses consciousness and a small lion cub from the circus whose mother didn’t have enough milk for all the cubs. I enjoyed how the stories were independent and yet many of the human characters made appearances in a number of the stories. Wendy doesn’t romanticise the responsibilities of pet ownership. Instead she explains through the stories what is required when looking after pets such as appropriate homes, feeding, exercise and cleaning. Wendy also beautifully portrays the vital work of animal shelters and how people in the community can be involved. The book is quite a large book for the target audience of eight years and above; however, as it is a collection of stories children can tackle the book in bite size pieces. Also, because Rainbow Street Pets has a number of stories, it would work very well as a read aloud. Reading some of the stories in conjunction with visiting a local animal shelter would fit very well with a unit on community people and community workers in the younger grades. Students could then write their own stories about an animal that they saw at the shelter. Alternatively a staff member from a shelter could visit the school to talk about the benefits of pet ownership and the responsibility it entails. Class groups could make a list about the pros and cons of pet ownership and then the class could split into groups to debate whether it is a good thing to have a pet or not. Students could also conduct a survey about what is the most popular pet in school and create a graph displaying the results.
Margy Heuschele, Concordia Primary Campus
This is delightful book with six stories about pets, about losing them and about acquiring them. The first introduces the reader to Bear the Border Collie and later to Henry the guinea pig, but there are many other types of pets at The Rainbow Street Shelter, pets who all need someone to love them. There’s even a lion cub. You’ll have to read the book to find out here that one fits in. Several of the characters like Hannah, Lachlan and Mona, who cares for animals at the shelter, continue from one story through to the next. Their stories will engage the emotions.
Rainbow Street Pets shows the importance pets play in a child’s life. It also has a lot to say about friendship, whether human friends or those of the furry kind. I found this an engaging book with likeable characters and stories that effortlessly draw you in. Most children will associate with the longings portrayed for a pet of one’s own. But getting a pet also involves taking responsibility for the welfare of that animal and this is brought out as well, though never in a didactic way, but as a natural part of the story.
My guess is children will adore this book and become really involved in the lives of the characters and their furry friends. Teachers will find it useful for lessons on friendship and sharing, or family relationships, as well as on types of pets, taking care of pets, and the responsibilities of being a pet owner.
I’ve been a fan of Wendy Orr after reading her young adult novel Peeling the Onion many years ago. Highly recommended for readers in the 7-10 age group or anyone who loves stories about animals, this new book of hers is destined to become another winner.
In the classroom you would be hard pressed to find a child who doesn’t love animals, or has had a pet in their household or that of their friends. The cover of Rainbow Street Pets is sure to grab kids in from the outset, with its bright colours and array of cute animals. Wendy Orr has done a great job of creating 6 unique stories about pets and their owners or caregivers, each woven together by the Rainbow Street Pet Shelter.
Because the experience of owning or playing with pets is so common, this book makes a great addition to the primary classroom. The students can immediately relate the stories to their own or their friend’s experiences. An easy exercise to add to an English class would be to have the children write their own story (with a beginning, middle and end) about themselves and a pet or a friend or family member and their animal.
As we know, interactions with animals can trigger a range of emotions in children, for example, disappointment when pets don’t behave how they expect or can’t be taken home to keep, and grief when a pet is injured or dies. Pets are often like part of the family, so learning to care from them is also part of the experience. These are all things that are touched on in the book and can be a good launch pad for discussing emotions and how to handle them. For example, the teacher could ask, ‘how would you feel if your pet went missing? What could you do about it?’
Naming and learning to understand different emotions and how to handle them are important parts of child development. Discussions around family and pets are an ideal way to broach the topic and the stories are really relatable. Wendy deals with, what could be potentially hard issues for kids, in a sensitive way. Family dynamics and relationships can be talked about to and using the stories is a safe way to open up conversation about living in a family and a wider community.
All the ups and downs of pet ownership and animal life are touched on in this book. The main protagonists are cheeky and funny (and very cute!). I’m sure kids will love this book. I think it would be a great one to read aloud.