This book about America's first woman to own a veterinary practice is for anyone who loves animals, needs a burst of self-confidence, or wants to soak up herstory as well as history. It's listed for readers ages five to eight.

Elinor McGrath was always interested in animals: "She preferred cows to cooking, sheep to sewing, and dogs and cats to just about anything else." When she wanted to pursue a career caring for them, people told her that women can't be vets — but in 1907, social norms were changing. Elinor applied to multiple vet schools, getting lots of rejections and one acceptance, from Chicago Veterinary College where she joined a class of 137 men.

With many of them intent on discouraging her, Elinor started to have self-doubts. She went to the Dean offering to leave so that she wouldn't be a disruption. He replied, "Well, you'd better not, because you'll make a better veterinarian than any of them."

His prophecy proved true as Elinor went on not only to pioneer as a woman in a field dominated by men but also to establish the first U.S. clinic dedicated to cats, dogs, and other small animals. She even purchased land to establish Chicago's first pet cemetery after her beloved bulldog passed away.

Alette Straathof's illustrations boldly show Elinor's determination, her disgust over absurdities (such as the American Veterinary Review leaving her out of the announcement of her classes' graduation), and her jubilation over successes. A child not yet ready to read could get much of the gist of the tale just from Straathof's vibrant pictures.

Author Jacqueline Johnson is herself a small-animal vet. She not only compellingly tells Elinor McGrath's story but also explains that today's graduating vet-school classes look much different, with women making up three-quarters of veterinary students. She closes the book with short bios of seven other pioneering women vets, like Alfreda Webb and Jane Hinton, who graduated in 1949 from Tuskegee Institute (now University) School of Veterinary Medicine to become the first Black women vets.