Danielle
Danielle asked:

What is the theme of this story? I have read the book but I can't quite figure out the theme.

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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Saunders wanted to advertise the good work of the Band of Mercy, an anti-cruelty league for young people. She also wanted to draw attention to what I call "casual cruelty"--things that normal people do/did every day without realising how the animals in question felt about it.

Where I live, docking tails and ears was banned by law in 2002. Yet you still see docked tails, because some vets don't think it matters; and some people do their own home-grown docking. You still see blinkers on horses pulling tourist carriages, though fortunately the check-rein disappeared in the 1990s (not the 1890s, when this book was set!). And unfortunately, bull running and fighting is still with us.
Cade Book is pretty much about how animals are tortured and how humans are evil.
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