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Animal Stories

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There aren't too many kids who don't like animals, which makes stories about them a great way to communicate truths about human nature to young readers. All kinds of animal stories have been written, and a lot of them are just about animals doing animal-y things, but some of the best aren't really about animals at all.

The Wind in the Willows, for instance—sure, Ratty and Mole have whiskers, and Badger is as grumpy as any badger whose hole does not include a well-stocked library, but they're essentially human characters with human emotions and human ambitions who grow the way humans ought. Even Mr. Toad is no more animal than Oliver Twist or Laura Ingalls.

Okay, you might say, but that's not really an animal story, then. What about Black Beauty? or Bambi? They're written from the perspective of real animals who don't talk (at least, not to people) or wear clothes or eat buttered toast; how can they be about human nature?

In the case of Black Beauty, the horse narrator has a surprisingly firm grasp of human emotion, and understands the behavior of her owners to an extent many homo sapiens would not. As for Bambi, while he acts like a real deer, he's also sentient and able to have relationships with his fellow forest animals that closely resemble those enjoyed by members of the human race.

Another kind of animal story is really about people, and simply uses animals as the hook, or as a foil for the humans in the story. The Black Stallion or Billy and Blaze books, for instance, are more about the boy heroes than the horses, though the bond between animal and rider is also explored. Jim Kjelgaard's dog stories are similar, chronicling the adventures of boys with their beloved dogs.

As with any genre, animal stories should be read primarily to be enjoyed. It is only then that the deep wisdom found in the best of them can speak to us as readers, can open up our minds and hearts to see more than just furry or scaly creatures do things they may or may not do in the real world. Besides, who's to say there isn't a talking monkey or cat somewhere in the real world? As far as books are part of the real world, there are plenty such animals, and plenty of opportunities to meet and be changed by them.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

 

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717 Items found Print
"Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!"
by Patricia Thomas
from HarperCollins
for Nursery-1st grade
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
101 Dalmatians
by Dodie Smith
Reissue from Puffin Books
for 3rd-6th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Abel's Island
by William Steig
from Square Fish Publishing
Animal Fantasy for 3rd-5th grade
1977 Newbery Honor Book
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
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Famous Bedtime Story Books #19
by Thornton W. Burgess
Illustrated from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
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Dover Children's Thrift Classics
by Thornton W. Burgess
New edition from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Buster Bear
Dover Children's Thrift Classics
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel
by Thornton W. Burgess
Revised ed. from Dover Publications
for 3rd-6th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse
Dover Children's Thrift Classics
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Grandfather Frog
Dover Children's Thrift Classics
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Happy Jack
Dover Thrift
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
for 1st-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Jerry Muskrat
Dover Children's Thrift Classics
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Jimmy Skunk
Dover Children's Thrift Classics
by Thornton W. Burgess
Una Rep from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Johnny Chuck
Dover Thrift
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
for 1st-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Mr. Mocker
Dover Thrift
by Thornton W. Burgess
Illustrated from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Old Man Coyote
Dover Children's Thrift Classics
by Thornton W. Burgess
Later Printing Used from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Old Mr. Toad
by Thornton W. Burgess
Revised ed. from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Paddy the Beaver
by Thornton W. Burgess
Unabridged from Dover Publications
for Preschool-2nd grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Peter Cottontail
by Thornton W. Burgess
Reprint from Dover Publications
for 3rd-5th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Poor Mrs. Quack
Dover Children's Thrift Classics
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Prickly Porky
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Reddy Fox
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
Animal Stories: Fantasy for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Sammy Jay
Dover Thrift
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Adventures of Unc' Billy Possum
Dover Thrift
by Thornton W. Burgess
from Dover Publications
for 1st-4th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Aesop's Fables
by Aesop
from Henry Holt and Company
Fairy Tales, Fables, and Legends for 1st-5th grade
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
Aesop's Fables
by Aesop, edited by Ann McGovern
from Scholastic Inc.
for Nursery-2nd grade
Aesop's Fables
by Retold & Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
1st Ed. from Chronicle Books
for Kindergarten-3rd grade
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
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by Aesop
Reprint from Puffin Books
for Kindergarten-4th grade
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by Aesop & Milo Winter
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for 2nd-5th grade
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
Akiak: A Tale From the Iditarod
by Robert J. Blake
Reprint from Puffin Books
for 1st-3rd grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Album of Horses
by Marguerite Henry
from Aladdin Paperbacks
Realistic Animal Stories for 3rd-7th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Album of Horses
by Marguerite Henry
from Aladdin Paperbacks
Realistic Animal Stories for 3rd-7th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
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by Leo Lionni
Reissue from Dragonfly Books
for Kindergarten-2nd grade
1970 Caldecott Honor Book
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
All Creatures Great and Small
James Herriot Series Book 1
by James Herriot
from St. Martin's Press
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in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
All On a Mountain Day
by Aileen Fisher
from Rod & Staff Publishers, Inc.
Animal Stories: Realistic for 7th-9th grade
in Rod & Staff Fiction (Location: B10-02C)
All Things Bright and Beautiful
James Herriot Series Book 2
by James Herriot
from St. Martin's Press
Realistic Fiction for 7th-12th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
All Things Wise and Wonderful
James Herriot Series Book 3
by James Herriot
from St. Martin's Press
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in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Along Came a Dog
by Meindert DeJong & Maurice Sendak
from HarperCollins
Realistic Animal Fiction for 4th-8th grade
1959 Newbery Honor Book
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
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by Clara Dillingham Pierson
from Yesterday's Classics
for Preschool-2nd grade
in Yesterday's Classics (Location: A11-02C)
Among the Forest People
by Clara Dillingham Pierson
from Yesterday's Classics
for Preschool-2nd grade
in Yesterday's Classics (Location: A11-02C)
Among the Meadow People
by Clara Dillingham Pierson
from Yesterday's Classics
for Preschool-2nd grade
in Yesterday's Classics (Location: A11-02C)
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by Clara Dillingham Pierson
from Yesterday's Classics
for Preschool-2nd grade
in Yesterday's Classics (Location: A11-02C)
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from Square Fish Publishing
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in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
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in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
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for Nursery-1st grade
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
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in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
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for 2nd-5th grade
in Clearance: Fiction (Location: ACL-FIC)
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by Kenneth Grahame
from W. W. Norton and Co.
Fantasy for 4th-8th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
Another Celebrated Dancing Bear
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in Clearance: Picture Books (Location: ACL-PIC)
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