Omaha Public Library wants to help readers find new books — or at least books new to them. Every month in this space, Omaha Public Library employees will recommend reading based on different writing genres, themes or styles. This May, staff have suggested some of their favorite books about or relating to animals. Find these books and more at your local branch or

Joanne Ferguson Cavanaugh, manager at Bess Johnson Elkhorn Branch

“Redwall” series, by Brian Jacques. This is a fantasy series set around Redwall Abbey in Mossflower Woods and populated with a variety of hero and villain talking animals, including mice, rats, ravens and wearets (half weasel, half ferret), etc. These are lengthy books for middle school readers. There is also a more digestible graphic novel series based on the books geared toward reluctant readers.

Jennifer Jazynka, manager at Milton R. Abrahams Branch

“Down Girl and Sit” series, by Lucy Nolan. There are four books written from the point of view of a couple of lovable, slightly mischievous dogs who think their names are “Down Girl” and “Sit.” Each book is as funny as the previous one, as they embark on adventures far out west on a dude ranch or as close as their own backyard. My children and I laughed until our bellies ached as we turned each page of this excellent series geared for early chapter book readers. It will definitely get kids to enjoy reading, and the grown-ups will love these, too!

Book 1: “Down Girl and Sit: Smarter Than Squirrels”; Book 2: “Down Girl and Sit: On the Road”; Book 3: “Down Girl and Sit: Bad to the Bone”; Book 4: “Down Girl and Sit: Home on the Range.”

Theresa Jehlik, strategy and business intelligence manager for Omaha Public Library

“A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home,” by Sue Halpern. When Halpern decides that her dog Pransky needs a job, she pursues therapy dog certification. After completing a torturous path to the coveted license, they begin weekly visits to County Nursing Home in their small Vermont town. As both become more accustomed to being around elderly people, lots of life lessons occur in a year. Fans of Anne Lamott’s approach to life and writing will appreciate this book.

“Squirm,” by Carl Hiassen. Hiaasen lightens up his dark humor a bit for the younger reader. Billy Dickens lives a nomadic life in Florida as his mother moves to follow bald eagle nesting patterns. When Billy discovers that his father is living in Montana, he flies out there and finds that his dad has a secretive job and a new family. As Billy delves into his father’s activities and gets to know his dad’s new wife and daughter, he also learns about different varieties of wildlife. This story would appeal to boys who love the outdoors and a mystery.

Elizabeth A. Johnson, senior manager of operations for Omaha Public Library

“The Immortals” series, by Tamora Pierce. I love this fantasy series for its detailed world-building, brisk plotting, and endearing characters. The main character, Daine, can communicate with animals via her wild magic, and works with them to fight off an invasion of fantastical creatures known as immortals. Many animals are fascinating characters in their own right, including a wolf pack and the no-nonsense pony Cloud.

Marvel Maring, manager at South Omaha Library

“How To Be A Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals,” by Sy Montgomery. Naturalist and author Sy Montgomery has traveled the globe to study animals great and small. From tarantulas to octopi, she tells of the deep heart connections she’s developed with them that defy reason. The book is divided into 13 chapters, depicting a significant animal in her personal life and academic research. She shares how her lifetime of loving animals has taught her what it means to be most human. Illustrated by Rebecca Green, the book is as beautiful as it is moving.

Lynn Sullivan, library specialist at W. Dale Clark Main Library

“Listening for Lions,” by Gloria Whelan. Rachel Sheridan’s parents are doctors/teachers at a mission in Tumaini, East Africa (Kenya) in 1918. Both parents perish in the Spanish Influenza epidemic, and Rachel is forced to assume a rich, dead girl’s identity as part of a scheme to try to collect an inheritance. This tale stands apart because of Rachel’s connection to the African land, animals and people.

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