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Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
"Fairminded Fran and the Three Small Black Community Cats" by Linda Elder is an educational book for children which deals with the problem of feral cats. Fairminded Fran is initially taken with the cats but she is confused as to why they do not come to her when she calls them. Fran asks others about the cats but they do not seem to have noticed the creatures. She talks to her friends about how the cats appear scared and hungry but her friends appear to be either selfish or uninvolved. Finally, Fran approaches her teacher for help on how best to help the three cats. The teacher kindly explains that it is difficult to help feral cats as they are afraid of humans and will not cooperate with attempts to help them. Fran and her teacher then involve the principal and the maintenance man. They find out that the cats may be approachable but that Fran must not force interactions with them.
The information in the book is wonderful for children who want to learn about how feral cats differ from domestic pets. The issue of spaying the cats to prevent breeding is tastefully addressed as is the idea that the cats will probably never respond to being domesticated. The eventual cooperation of the children in trying to assist the cats is a delight to the reader as are the ongoing illustrations which help the child to conceptualize the idea of helping while keeping one's distance. This is a book which should be welcomed in school libraries.