Honestly, I was a little thrown by How to Hold Animals by Toshimitsu Matsuhashi. On the one hand, I can certainly consider this an incredibly informative book about the proper ways to handle various creatures that a person may end up coming across in their lives. On the other, it’s a bit over the top and, considering the fact that the audience is supposed to be children, a bit too encouraging in the wrong direction at times. The thing is, I did my fair share of picking up various insects and animals as a kid, but there really is a line to be drawn at some point.

The dos and don’ts of animal holding

I’ll give the author and contributors this, they certainly have a point when it comes to proper animal care while picking them up. It’s basically a certainty that I probably harmed any countless number of insects when I was a child hellbent on picking them up and taking them home to keep as pets. So, teaching the no doubt numerous children who do have the audacity to pluck up unsuspecting creatures from the ground the ways to do so without harming the animals is a noble endeavor.

And of course the contributors to this book are all highly qualified professionals, ranging from veterinarians to pet shop owners. These are the kind of people who handle animals of all varieties for a living, and so naturally they have a wealth of knowledge with which to educate the youth of our world. In that, I really loved this book. And I do genuinely feel that even I, at twenty-seven, learned a lot about how to hold these creatures in a way that I will certainly pass on to any children I have in the future.

Of course, there is a bit of a downside

Had this book been written for adults, I probably wouldn’t have really taken issue with any of it. There’s a lot of useful information for any reader and it certainly offers insight into some potentially fun–albeit some also dangerous–experiences that I can’t really bar an adult from going after. I don’t think this book is in any way a substitute for professional training, of course. But, I can say that if you’re an adult and you make a decision to do something potentially dangerous like pick up a snake…well, your decision.

That said, I don’t really appreciate the fact that such suggestions are made in a book that is primarily meant to educate parents and children. Sure, for the average pet store snake…I understand. I don’t particularly have any interest, but I don’t really see a problem either. It’s the more dangerous snakes and animals that make me feel incredibly weary of this book’s encouragement for children to go around picking up all kinds of creatures.

I applaud the endeavor to educate all in grabbing various animals in the safe and proper way, both for the holder and the animal, but I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say that more children need to be picking up various animals they find about them. Sure, go pick up a butterfly–and don’t damage their wings while doing it; I don’t particularly agree with the method they use in the book and much prefer to have a butterfly walk across my hand–but don’t go grabbing at the random snake in your backyard.

Even if it is a garter snake. There’s just a limit.

Either way, this book is informative and, if you’re going to be picking up the creatures in your backyard, worth a read.


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