Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals

St. Martin’s. Feb. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781250272836. $27.99. PETS
In her debut memoir, Zaleski recounts founding her animal sanctuary, the Funny Farm Rescue. It had been her mother Annie’s dream to live on a farm with her many rescued animals, but Annie died shortly before Zaleski closed on the 20-acre plot in Mays Landing, NJ, in 2000. With the determination that drove her to create a successful photography and graphics company, Zaleski expanded on her mother’s dream, building a loving refuge for hundreds of neglected or abandoned domestic, farm, and exotic animals and a beloved site for visitors and volunteers. Zaleski’s authorial debut (she has previously illustrated Matt Reeves’s anti-bullying children’s books Farley the Funny Farm Dog, Chucky the Miracle Dog, and Adela the Diva Chicken) interweaves origin stories of Funny Farm’s animal residents with recollections from her own childhood after her mother left an abusive husband. Themes of kindness and acceptance pervade in Zaleski’s book and in Funny Farm’s mission.
VERDICT Readers will be inspired to visit virtually (or maybe even in person!) the animals they read about, like Emily the emu and Cowboy the goat. Zaleski’s animal stories are immensely relatable and often told with the mix of empathy, outrage, humor, and steady resolve that is familiar to seasoned animal rescuers. Readers may also feel a special connection with Annie and her story of courage and unconditional love.
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