Talkin’ Thursday: Mercy: The Incredible Story of Henry Bergh by Nancy Furstinger

Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Reviewed by Danielle B:

Although Henry Bergh grew up as a pampered aristocrat, he later formed the ASPCA and devoted his entire life to helping animals. Bergh gained his passion for animals after witnessing a bull being tortured at a bullfight in Spain. Bergh became a Russian ambassador, and after witnessing many animals being abused, he was inspired by Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(RSPCA) and formed the ASPCA, or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Henry Bergh made his first bold move to have law enforcement enact a misdemeanor upon those humans who would mistreat an animal by one of the following acts: neglecting, maiming, killing, abusing, wounding, injuring, or torturing. Bergh continued to work for animal rights and invented a sling to help horses trapped in rivers or mud. Bergh also advocated for humans as well, such as when a lady brought him a case of an abused child. Bergh recognized the connection between the rights of children and the rights of animals, and stated if the child could not have the rights of a human, it should at least have the rights of a dog in the street.

Henry Bergh died on March 11th, 1888, in New York when he was 74. Even though he died ASPCA still continues on successfully without him. Even so, Henry Bergh left a legacy behind that changed what people thought of the treatment of animals.

This book is great for animal lovers and those who like to learn about historical people. It provides lots of information and interesting facts about Henry Bergh. For example, it informs the reader about a time when Henry Bergh went to court in a case that argued  whether turtles were animals.

Henry Bergh’s vocal stance on animal rights often made the news. His ability to fight for animals were often times headlines and this allowed the author to elaborate more on the news of this period than merely just the story of Henry. Woven between the story of Henry were also fun facts about this time in U.S. history.

Even though this book is recommended for ages 8-12, it might interest older readers who like to learn about famous people who made a difference in the world. It is a short and easy read; one I found both fascinating and educational.

–Danielle B. is a 7th grade student who enjoys reading. Every minute of every day she would prefer to read so she can ignore her annoying little brother and not have to help do chores around her house.