Kids love animals and animals feature in many of our favourite children’s fiction books. Creating animal characters with human features and personality traits offers authors a way of exploring difficult situations and some of the insecurities kids feel themselves in a way that is relatable but not too serious.
This month we sent out Parakeet subscribers a gorgeous book about a small but mighty spider who discovers he’s been unfairly branded deadly on social media. Fearing for his life and the future of his species, he finds his inner strength and fights to clear his name. He’s the ultimate unlikely hero and we love him!
Reading this month’s book led us to reflect on some of our favourite fictional animal heroes. Here are six more brilliant kids’ books with heroic animal characters:
Animal books for kids aged 5+
Super Cats by Gwyneth Rees, illustrated by Becka Moor (Bloomsbury)
Cats with superpowers! What’s not to like? This beautifully illustrated book is packed with action. Tagg discovers that he's no ordinary kitten, that his parents have superpowers – but will he have super strength like his dad, or amazing claws like his mum? All he knows is that his power will be awesome! In the meantime, super cats are disappearing and it’s down to Tagg and his best friend Sugarfoot to save the day from a dastardly villain.
Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee (Gecko Press)
This charming animal-detective story for younger readers is beautifully illustrated throughout. With shades of Wind in the Willows, this early reader stars Detective Gordon, a gentle and quietly observant toad, and his sidekick, Buffy, an energetic mouse. We sent this book to our Parakeet subscribers last year and it was a huge hit!
Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T. Smith
This is the first book in a series by Claude author Alex T. Smith (a second volume was published last year and a third has just been released). Illustrated throughout and hugely entertaining, the books star unlikely hero and adventurer detective, Mr Penguin. Think Indiana Jones meets Hercule Poirot, with plenty of slapstick humour, mystery and adventure.
Animal books for kids aged 8+
Uncle Shawn and Bill and the Almost Completely Unplanned Adventure by A. L. Kennedy, illustrated by Gemma Correll
This quirky comedy, brilliantly illustrated by Gemma Correll, stars unlikely hero, Badger Bill. Bill’s been kidnapped by two nasty sisters who are about to make him fight a boxing match against three even nastier dogs. But never fear - Uncle Shawn is here! He loves rescuing things. He has a rescuing plan, which involves dancing, and a mole, and an electric fence. Along the way, Bill discovers what it means to be a brilliant friend and that he’s stronger than he thinks he is.
The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Kathrin Honesta
This extraordinary, magical, exquisitely told tale stars Yanka the Bear, a young girl found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby. Yanka has always wondered about where she is from. She tries to ignore the strange whispers and looks from the villagers, wishing she was as strong on the inside as she is on the outside. But, when she has to flee her house, looking for answers about who (and what) she really is, a journey far beyond one that she ever imagined begins. One of the best books we’ve read this year.
Evie and the Animals by Matt Haig, illustrated by Emily Gravett
Eleven-year-old Evie is no ordinary animal lover. She can HEAR what the animals she meets are thinking. But her talent isn’t straightforward, and Evie soon finds herself in danger, along with every animal in town. Determined to save them and to solve the mystery of her own past, Evie must seek the help of the animal heroes around her, who in turn teach her to dare to be herself. Gentle, thought-provoking and beautifully written, we loved this book.
Are you keen to supercharge your child’s love of reading but feel like you could be doing more to support them? We know that discovering, purchasing and recommending books that maintain your child’s enthusiasm for reading, helping them to reach their full potential, is time consuming. Why not let us take that off your to-do list? With a Parrot Street Book Club subscription your child receives a carefully chosen new children’s book and accompanying activity pack through the post each month. They receive a stream of varied and exciting books, whilst the book club-style questions and activities are perfect for sharing. Find out more here.