fairminded fran -- community cats

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Fairminded Fran and the Three Small Black Community Cats

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This is the story of Fairminded Fran and her experience in learning about community cats (also known as feral cats). On her journey Fran hopes to convince Selfish Sam to help with the cats. But Sam cares only for himself. She also asks Naive Nancy to get involved. But Nancy doesn't want to make waves, so she always goes along with the crowd. Join Fairminded Fran as she learns about cats that live outdoors and that can't usually be tamed. Learn important facts about community cats. Think about how their numbers affect the earth. Think about how we can work together to humanely stop the spread of community cats and reduce suffering. Think along with Fairminded Fran. 

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Fairminded Fran & the Three Small Black Community Cats

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If you’ve ever spotted a feral cat in your neighborhood and weren’t sure what to do, this would be a great picture book to read with your kids. Fran, a little girl, spots wild cats near her elementary school. Not all the other kids want to help them, but Fran is determined. First she feeds them. Then, she learns about a catch neuter and release program for feral cats. Her compassion helps to bring the other kids around.

This bonus idea is for anyone who notices feral cats in their community. You don’t have to catch the wild cats yourself either. Many communities have volunteers that will do that if they know about the wild cats. It’s an effective and humane program.

Pragmatic Mom Blog


"FAIRMINDED FRAN and the three small black COMMUNITY CATS", is superb reading for all elementary grades. The book is right in line with the Common Core Learning Standards: authentic text, application to a real world situation and high student engagement. The topic will make an excellent research project! The book will be an excellent addition to individual classroom libraries. I thoroughly enjoyed it! 

Christine Hall

Retired Educator 


Fran discovers three small black cats outside her school, foraging at the dumpster. She tries to befriend them, but they’re too scared and run away. Concerned for their well-being, she brings this matter to her teacher. He advises her that they are feral cats, and will never be able to be pets. But with the help of the principal, she and others arrange for their care and neutering. 

In this unique book, children are alerted to the plight of homeless feral cats in their neighborhood. They learn about the concept of trap-neuter-return, so the cats won’t continue to reproduce. (See Alley Cat Allies website for more information on this program.) Compassion and caring are encouraged to be sure these small strays will live healthy lives, while their population diminishes. 

Along with Fairminded Fran, kids meet Selfish Sam, and Naive Nancy, who have differing opinions on these cats. Critical thinking is used to determine the right way to handle this situation.Fairminded Fran and the Three Small Black Community Cats would be a great classroom resource, not only to let kids know about feral cats, but also to encourage the process of critical thinking. I highly recommend it. 

Alice Berger

Berger Book Reviews


“Fairminded Fran and the three small black Community Cats” is a great read for anyone who values compassion. Delving into the complexities of how we, as a society, have historically dealt with cat overpopulation the book highlights effective and ethical solutions currently being applied by young enthusiastic problem solvers like Fran. The book wonderfully illustrates how people can gather together to make their neighborhood a kinder place.

Holly Sizemore, Director, Community Programs and Services, National Programs, Best Friends Animal Society 

“Bravo! Fairminded Fran and the three small black Community Cats is an informative story that will teach children how to think critically about a very important and real-world topic that surrounds us all – feral cats. As a teacher of over 20 years, I know that critical thinking must be taught in order to move students into deeper levels of reading and comprehension. Fairminded Fran does this. Children will engage in meaningful discussions, make personal and world connections, ask questions, make inferences, evaluate characters, problem solve, and apply what they have learned to help their own communities – “powerful” thinking tool! I especially like how each character is identified as having a distinctly different personality and thought pattern. It makes readers reflect on their values and ethics as well as recognize their own metacognitive abilities, and this will promote change for the better in so many ways.  Finally, as a supporter of animal rescue, I give Fairminded Fran two paws up! There can never be enough stories about rescuing animals. We are their voice – well done! 

Brenda Fiorini, Teacher, Illinois public schools

Author of “Rescue Pup”


Fairminded Fran and the three small black Community Cats is one of the only books that I have come across to directly address the issues surrounding and needs of feral cats. Fairminded Fran learns the importance of empathy when trying to help these cats that she discovers behind her school. This book will be a great resource for young people to learn about the needs of feral cats, why many cannot be re-homed and how we can help them. The information at the end of the book regarding feral cats and ways of thinking is a good additional resource.

Dezarae Jones-Hartwig, Education Manager  

Wisconsin Humane Society 


… I enjoy the sense that ‘Fairminded Fran’ is not only concerned with the well-being of others less fortunate, but also that she has the determination to rally behind those who may need it most, as well as recruiting help.  ... This is an excellent book to spread the word on the issues community cats face as well as what to do if crossed with a similar situation. I highly enjoyed this book and plan on using it to discuss such topics with my students. 

Nicole Latosky

Humane Education Coordinator

Geauga Humane Society's Rescue Village


“Fairminded Fran and the three small black Community Cats” is a wonderful book that brings light to the hidden life of feral cats. These cats need our help and with this book we can empower children to be more aware, educated and compassionate about this serious issue. Children will learn how they can help feral cats and make better choices in the future to reduce their number. What a wonderful resource!

Chris Durrant

Animal Matters


There are many wonderful children books written about homeless animals. Usually, the book has a happy ending and the animal ends up in a loving home. So how do you tell the story of animals that don’t end up in a home but still have a happy ending?

That is the story that Fairminded Fran and the three small Community Cats by Linda Elder tells. The book tells the tale of a schoolgirl named Fairminded Fran who notices three black cats outside her school. The cats run from her when she tries to talk to them or give them food. Fairminded Fran is uncertain of what to do and gets little help from Selfish Sam, who thinks that outside cats are just a nuisance and Naïve Nancy thinks it is better to just not get involved. I love how these characters really represent a snapshot of society when it comes to feral cats. There are people who just think they are problem cats and should just be eliminated, people who just ignore the problem and then luckily we have heroes like Fran, who decide to do something. 

The book follows Fran as she changes the mind of Sam and Nancy and gets her school involved in helping to care for these cats. They build a feeding station and a shelter and work with a local Feral cat rescue to get the cats fixed. 

The story is a great example of how a person can make a positive impact and change the minds of those around her. It is also illustrates how easily feral cats can be helped and cared for.  The book also does a great job of getting kids to think about and understand what empathy means. The book has many instances of people being empathetic to the feral cats.

The explanation of terms in the back is great and very informative for kids and adults alike.  …This would be a great addition to any humane educators, teacher or animal advocates library. 

Jennifer Self-Aulgur, Humane Education Coordinator

Humane Society of West Michigan.


One of the best things to happen to Marin Friends of Ferals was meeting Linda Elder. She’s made a valuable impact within her rural farming community by introducing the importance of TNR to humanely manage feral community cats. With this method, Linda has improved the quality of life for over 130 cats (and counting). This educational story about her first encounter with ferals has taken our cause to the next level – teaching our children that these victims of human neglect deserve not only our empathy, but our help, to reduce their suffering and help give them a decent quality of life. 

Janet Williams, President

Marin Friends of Ferals


Fairminded Fran and the three small black Community Cats is a well-written children's book that helps illustrate one child's life experience that leads her to act in a fair-minded way. When confronted with the cats that are in desperate need of care and attention, the child engages empathizes with the point of view of the community cats.  … she quickly learns that the feral cats live in a much different situation than she had assumed to be true. While this is upsetting at first, she is fairminded and continues to pursue a solution for the community cats. As she seeks to know more about the cats by asking adults around her for information, and by doing research, Fran shows her thinking to be flexible; her understanding of what the cats really need soon shifts. This is a great book to use for launching the notion of the three thinkers; Fairminded Fran, Selfish Sam and Naive Nancy that exist within all of us. When we teach children to recognize these types of thinking, they have tools for better understanding the quality of their thinking. 

Carmen A. Polka

Kindergarten Teacher

Ponderosa Elementary School

Thompson School District


Fairminded Fran and the Three Small Black Community Cats is a fantastic book and covers so much wonderful information in such a readable format.  I would definitely recommend it to any humane educator or others interested in starting, continuing or educating others about our nation/worldwide problem of feral/community cats.  "Fairminded Fran" covers all the basics and then some of TNR and the continuing care of the cats. 

Jean Meyer

Friends of Keokuk Animal Services