At the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park: Stories about animals and their people | Guest Columns

Books and films about human/animal friendships are always popular here at the library, but I have a complicated relationship with them. On one hand, I love nothing more than a heartwarming tale about a human winning the affection of an adorable animal. On the other hand, I’m typically overcome by a paralyzing fear that something will happen to the animal, and thus have a hard time enjoying it (I was scarred for life after watching “Ring of Bright Water” as a child. It’s available through our consortium, but don’t let the G rating fool you, it’s savage.). If you’re also into animal companion stories, here are some heartwarming books that contain a healthy amount of drama, but (spoiler alert!) don’t have a tragic ending.

There are a few different lanes of animal books, but let’s start with the adventure tales. In “Dogtripping,” author and animal rescuer David Rosenfelt tells the story of his retirement to Maine from California: a simple cross-country RV trip with his wife and a handful of friends. Oh, and his 25 dogs. If you like it, Rosenfelt has written many other fiction and nonfiction books inspired by his experiences in animal rescue. If you’re more into cats, try “Nala’s World” by Dean Nicholson, who has traveled the world on a bike with his trusty feline friend. It’s not just mammals that get to go on adventures, either! In “A Sailor, a Chicken, an Incredible Voyage: The Seafaring Adventures of Guirec and Monique,” ​​author Guirec Soudée recounts the many sailing escapades he’s enjoyed with his trusty and gutsy hen, Monique. It may sound a bit contrived, but it’s surprisingly gripping and uplifting.

Another popular theme in human-and-animal-relationship stories is that of the unexpected athlete. In “Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home,” Mikael Lindnord, captain of a Swedish adventure racing team, relates the story of the stray pup that tailed them through 435 miles in the jungles of South America. In a similar vein, ultramarathon runner Dion Leonard wrote “Finding Gobi: The True Story of a Little Dog and an Incredible Journey,” a memoir about a small dog that found and kept pace with him for 80 miles in the grueling Gobi Desert. Again, it’s not just dogs that have all the fun (if you call ultramarathons “fun”). In “Running with Sherman,” Christopher McDougall rehabilitates a donkey, and later trains him to compete in a burro racing championship, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

Finally, there’s some that are simply sweet. Author and busker James Bowen wrote numerous stories about a cat named Bob that adopted him and helped him overcome addiction. Full disclosure, Bob has since passed away, but in the stories he is very much alive and well! Start with “A Street Cat Named Bob” (2012). Finally, there’s “Piglet,” a memoir by Connecticut veterinarian Melissa Shapiro about the tiny deaf-blind puppy that she rescued, fostered, and went to great lengths to adopt.

Top requested books

1. “The Paris Apartment” by Lucy Foley

2. “Run Rose Run” by James Patterson

3. “The Match” by Harlan Coben

4. “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles

5. “What Happened to the Bennetts” by Lisa Scottoline

6. “The Maid” by Nita Prose

7. “Dream Town” by David Baldacci

8. “22 Seconds” by James Patterson

9. “The Hotel Nantucket” by Elin Hilderbrand

10. “One Italian Summer” by Rebecca Serle

Top requested DVDs

1. Belfast

2. “Spider-Man: No Way Home”

3. “Yellowstone Season 4”

4. “The Beatles: Get Back”

5. “Sing 2”

6. “Nightmare Alley”

7. “The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4”

8. “Death on the Nile”

9. “Parallel Mothers”

10. “Licorice Pizza”

This week

MONDAY — 4-4:45 pm, Couch to 5k Run Club – It’s week three of our Run Club, and we’re meeting at the fountain in Wilcox Park for our group run. No registration is required!

TUESDAY — 10-10:30 am, Family Storytime – Join us on Tuesdays in the Terrace Room for a family storytime! The program will be geared towards ages birth through 11 years when accompanied by a caregiver; 1-4 pm, Community Resource Advocate – Our volunteer Community Resource Advocate is available via email to help connect you with local services/resources. Contact her at; 2-3:30 pm, Virtual Tech Social – We meet on Zoom every Tuesday to address your tech questions. Registration is required; 5:30-7:30 pm, Knit and Crochet Club – The Knit and Crochet Group is meeting on the 2nd floor of the library. Masks are highly recommended.

WEDNESDAY — 2-3:30 pm, Virtual Film Club – We will discuss three movies we selected last month and choose three to watch for our May meeting. Contact Hannah at for meeting details; 6-7 pm, Virtual Cookbook Club: Dine and Discuss – We’ll be preparing and (virtually) sharing recipes from “Grains for Every Season” by Joshua McFadden. Contact to register; 6:30-7:45 pm, Spring Flute and Piano Recital | John Graham, John Curran, and Sara Boyd – Please join us for a recital in the auditorium.

THURSDAY — 4-6 pm, League of Women Voters of South County in Conversation with RIDE – Join us in the library auditorium for a conversation on RIDE’s effort to reimagine high school, and proposal to revise the high school graduation requirements; 5:30-6:30 p.m., Zumba in the Park and Library | Turn It Up and Tone – Enjoy a free Zumba class with Yvonne Brown and Tina Pagliusi; 5:30-7:30 pm, Chess Club – Drop by the library’s Old Main Reading Room for our weekly Chess Club. Players of all skill levels are welcome.

SATURDAY —10 am-12 pm, Digital Literacy Classes – Sign up for up to 8 weeks of free computer classes with Spanish support, presented by the Providence Public Library and RI Office of Library and Information Services. Limited spaces available, so registration is required; 10:30-11:30 am, Zumba in the Park and Library – Try out Zumba for a fun workout! Classes are FREE and will be held in the 3rd floor Terrace Room (in undesirable weather).

Cassie Skobrak is a reference librarian at Westerly Library & Wilcox Park.


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