A Book Review: I Promise You, Written & Illustrated by Edwin Fontanez

I Promise You – An Introduction to Living the Animal-Human Bond,  written with illustrations by Edwin Fontanez,

is a book that attempts to engage both children and adults in a conversation about the fundamentals of pet ownership … and succeeds.

The idea for this book grew from an unspeakable tragedy that took place in the town of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.

On October 8, 2007, almost 100 cats and dogs were seized from their homes.  Some were literally snatched out of the arms of their owners.  These animals were thrown off of a bridge a short time later, to their deaths.

All of these animals were killed in the name of “animal control.”

And, from that incident, Fontanez wrote this book to encourage children and people of all ages to explore the dynamics between animals and people, focusing on the understanding that animals have a right to ethical, humane treatment.  Always.

There is, writes  Fontanez,  an  “…unspoken but implicit promise we make when we bring a pet into our homes and the responsibilities we take when we accept it as a member of our family.”   Part of how we keep that promise is by fighting against pet overpopulation,  pet abandonment  and animal abuse.  All topics  that Fontainez  writes  about.

Fontanez  divides  his book into eight,  short,  easy-to-read  chapters with black and white illustrations and inspirational quotes.  He starts with an overview of practical things to consider before bringing a pet home, asking that his readers  honestly  evaluate whether they can financially afford to have a pet.

An animal-lover,  Fontanez  shares personal stories of the animals he has loved,  including a St Bernard named  “Eny.”  Fontanez   falls in love with someone else’s  St Bernard and without stopping to think about whether this breed was really suitable for him,  he has a St Bernard  puppy shipped  to Puerto Rico.

Such a lovable breed and completely  impractical for island life.  Fontanez  doesn’t shy away from admitting this as he describes what it was like to live with this large dog.  His point,  as he tells this story,  is to urge his readers  to do their research before choosing a pet.

An older (now wiser)  Fontanez  explains one of the reasons  he chose to adopt a cat.  “While reading this book,  you may notice that my focus leans slightly more towards cats.  Make no mistake,  there is no bias of any kind.  I love dogs equally!  But there is a very strong reason for my drawing attention to cats.  Even after all these years,  cats are proportionally a bigger target of abuse than dogs.”

A fact that I didn’t know and a good example of how Fontanez  weaves  factual information about animal abuse into his larger message.

Chapters  3-5  examine the more sobering  topics of animal abuse,  how animals become homeless  and the basics of understanding  animal behavior.   If you are a parent  reading this book with your children,  or a classroom teacher  reading this book to your students,   you’ll find that  Chapter 8the Home and Classroom  Discussion and Resource  Guide –  provides  additional material that can supplement  the conversations  you have  with your children or your students.

As we begin the holiday season,  I can think of no more appropriate gift for children, their families and their teachers,  than  I Promise You,  by Edwin Fontanez.   The message this book brings into homes and classrooms  is one of hope that together,  we can eradicate animal abuse and pet abandonment,  starting with understanding and taking simple steps.

If we start  with our children – who are our youngest and most impressionable audience  and who represent the next generation of pet owners –  we are taking the first step to a more compassionate, educated  society when it comes to living in harmony with animals. And,  you have my promise on that!

 

I Promise You, written  with illustrations by  Edwin Fontanez,  is available in both English and Spanish.   Additional  information about the book and the author are available by visiting the author’s web site, I Promise You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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