Animal Books

What child doesn’t wish they had a pet, could talk to animals (and have them talk back), or even wish they were an animal at some point? These animal books give us some insight into the world of animals. (Note: dog and cat books will be coming later, on their own lists.)

THE ADVENTURES OF A SOUTH POLE PIG: A NOVEL OF SNOW AND COURAGE
by Chris Kurtz
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013
Grades 2-5

This was a sweet and inspirational story! Flora is born a farm pig but longs for adventure. When she sneaks out of the pig pen and sees the sled dogs training, she knows in her heart that she needs to become a sled pig. With the encouragement of Luna, a cat who was her first non-pig friend, Flora sets off to embrace excitement and the world around her. Along the way she meets people and animals who are both good and bad, but never loses sight of who she is. Flora is a pig who believes in herself and follows her dream. Highly recommended for grades 2-5.

APPLEBLOSSOM THE POSSUM
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Dial Books, 2015
Grades 2-4

Appleblossom is born last, the final baby in her mother’s first litter. As she and her twelve brothers and sisters grow up, their mother imparts the wisdom of opossums to them. They learn life lessons about the monsters to avoid (cars, people, dogs) and they hone their acting skills. It is a joyful childhood, but all too soon Mama Possum sends them out on their own. For her first night’s adventure, Appleblossom becomes fascinated with a human girl. One thing leads to another, and soon Appleblossom is trapped in a seemingly impossible situation. Can her brothers Amlet and Antonio find a way to save her? This exciting adventure story will appeal to animal lovers in grades 2-4.

THE ESCAPE 
by Kathryn Lasky
Scholastic, 2014
Grades 4 & up

Estrella is a filly born on the ship taking the horses from First Island to the Yucatan Peninsula in the early 1500s. When she and three other horses are thrown overboard to lighten the load, they must first swim to safety, then make their way across an unknown land full of dangers. With a vision of a tiny horse and the smell of sweet grass, Estrella leads her herd across North America in search of the land of first horses. This riveting adventure is the first in a new series. Highly recommended for horses lovers grades 4 and up.

FIREFLY HOLLOW
by Alison McGhee
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015
Grades 2-4

Firefly isn’t like the other fireflies; she wants to fly to the moon. Cricket isn’t like the other crickets; his dream is to become a great catcher. Vole is the last of the river voles, the rest disappeared long ago. Peter, a human boy, is suffering a devastating loss. These four find each other and together they help and support each other’s dreams. A lovely book about friendship, feeling different, and finding your place in the world. Highly recommended for grades 2-4.

FIRSTBORN
by Tor Seidler
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015
Grades 3 & up

Told from the point of view of a magpie, this story follows several of the wolves that were reintroduced into Yellowstone as they start their own pack. The ups and downs of birth, death, allegiances, and betrayals are like a wolfy soap opera. It will appeal to young nature lovers and fans of animal stories. Recommended for grades 3-5.

MOUSEHEART 
by Lisa Fiedler
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014
Grades 4 & up

Hopper and his siblings Pinky and Pup are growing up in a comfortable life in a pet shop, until the day they find out they are being raised as “feeder” mice — in other words, snake food. In a daring escape, the three siblings are separated, and we stick with Hopper as he discovers an underground kingdom of rats who have an uneasy alliance with feral cats. Taken in by Prince Zucker, they are accosted by a group of rebel rats and mice, who believe that Hopper may be the “Chosen One.” This is a classic battle between good and evil, and Hopper learns that what seems right isn’t always. Recommended for grades 4-8.

NUTS TO YOU
by Lynne Rae Perkins
Greenwillow Books, 2014
Grades 2 & up

While eating a peanut butter sandwich one day, the author is approached by a squirrel who tells her a miraculous story of survival and adventure. Jed, a gray squirrel, was carried off by hawk, but miraculously escaped and landed among a colony of red squirrels. While staying with them he learned of powerful machinery that was cutting down trees and heading towards his home grove. With the help of several other brave squirrels, he raced home to warn his community before it was too late. But could he get there in time? And would the squirrels believe the peril they were in? A fun fable with an important ecological moral. Recommended for grades 2-4.

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN
by Katherine Applegate
HarperCollins, 2012
Grades 4 & up

I put off reading this book for a long time because I just didn’t think a book about a gorilla living in a dilapidated shopping mall would be that good. Boy was I wrong! What a fabulous read. Told from Ivan’s point of view, the story pulls you in right from the start. All of the characters are multidimensional, with both their strengths and weakness shown. Ivan the gorilla, Bob the dog, Stella & Ruby the elephants, and even the people — Mack, George, and Julia — grew in my heart as I read. We get to know them as Ivan thinks about them and remembers his past. I thought the book would be too depressing, but the ending is positive and uplifting for everyone involved. Highly recommended for grades 4 and up.

THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP
by Kathi Appelt
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013
Grades 4 & up

Bingo and J’miah are True Blue Scouts, who live in an old De Soto in the Sugar Man Swamp. They are also raccoons. As the many Scouts before them, they are charged with keeping an eye on everything going on in the swamp. Chap and his Mom live adjacent to the swamp. His beloved grandfather has just died, and it is up to Chap to help his mother run their pie business. Sonny Boy Beaucoup owns the swamp, but does not see the beauty and magic in it, unlike Chap and his grandfather Audie. As Chap tries to protect the swamp and save his mother’s business, Bingo and J’miah are doing their part to protect it as well. With some flashbacks to Audie’s original adventures in the swamp, all of the stories weave neatly together to a very satisfying end. Recommend for grades 4-8.

THE WILD ONES
by C. Alexander London
Philomel Books, 2015
Grades 2-5

Kit is a young raccoon living a fairly idyllic life under the Big Sky until the day his parents are killed by a pack of hunting dogs. But this is no accident. His parents have discovered a clue to the location of the Bone of Contention, an agreement between the Wild Ones and the Flealess (house pets) many years before. With this new knowledge, Kit flees to Ankle Snap Alley in the city in search of an uncle he didn’t know he had. But the young country raccoon faces so many dangers — not just from the Flealess but also from the Rabid Rascals who govern the alley, exacting protection money and conning the other animals. Can he find the Bone of Contention and save Ankle Snap Alley before it is too late? Armed only with his wits and with his good friend Eenie by his side, Kit has no other choice but to try. A fun adventure and a great start to a new series. Recommended for grades 2-5.