If you have a young animal lover, here are some great books from 2017 to offer them! With animals ranging from pigs to panthers, these are all pages turners of (mostly) furry excellence.
The Nutcracker Mice, by Kristin Kladstrup
Here’s a truly delightful reimagining of the Nutcracker Ballet, performed by mice who have their own ballet company in St. Petersburg. On the stage above their home, the original ballet is about to have its first performance and the Russian Mouse Ballet will be staging their own version at the same time. The mouse ballet must succeed, or else the mouse company might have to close their curtains. Esmeralda is a rising mouse star…but can she successfully lead her company to a reworking of the Nutcracker that is both more mouse-friendly in its plot, and that celebrates all that is graceful about mice? With the help of a human girl, a friend to the mice who’s willing to help make mouse costumes, the answer is a resounding Yes! It’s a charming book I highly recommend to fans of people-like animals, ballet, and doll dresses!
The Last Panther, by Todd Mitchell
Books for young environmentalists are often a bit heavy handed; not this one, which uses a futuristic setting for a gripping story that doesn’t preach at readers. 11-year-old Kiri lives in a future ravaged by global warming, where most animals are “once-were” creatures. Her father, an ecologist, left the walled city to come to the edge of the ocean. The multiethnic people living there, hunting and fishing, distrust him; for them, killing animals is what you need to do if you want your kids to live. When Kiri meets a panther that her father wants to trap to send to the city, and which the locals want to hunt, the conflict intensifies. The panther is killed, but leaves behind three cubs whose fate hangs in the balance. Kiri is desperate to return them to the wild, but she needs to get her father and the local people working together for this to happen. Kiri’s love for the wild creatures will resonate with young readers, who may well be moved towards activism themselves.
The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, by Jodie Kendall
No one in Josie’s family ever said “let’s get a pet pig.” With five kids and a dog, their small city house is plenty full. But then her brother comes home from college for Thanksgiving with a piglet in tow. Hamlet was the runt of her litter, and her life was in danger. Middle-schooler Josie, preoccupied already by her worry that she’s getting too tall for gymnastics, takes on the task of looking after Hamlet, a sweet, loving animal who can catch a Frisbee. But Hamlet keeps getting bigger. And Josie has only till New Year’s Eve (her father and the police who are called to enforce the “no livestock” ordinance are in agreement on this one) to find Hamlet a new home, where she won’t become bacon! A lot of the book takes place at Christmas time, making this warm family story especially fun for kids in the middle of celebrating Christmas themselves.
Sled Dog School, by Terry Lynn Johnson
11-year-old Matt loves working with his family’s sled dog teams out in the woods around his home, and he used to take his family’s life off the grid life (with no indoor plumbing!) for granted. But now other kids are making fun of him for it, and for being bad at math. To bring his math grade up, he has to do well on an extra-credit project on the practical skills of business accounting, and so he starts a sled dog school. He gets two customers—Tubbs, whose mom wants him out of the house and exercising, and Alex, whose mom wants her to build an impressive resume of extracurriculars. And though there are ups and downs, there’s also lots of fun, and Matt ends up with his extra credit, two new friends, and greater appreciation for his quirky home. All the great sled dog details will make kids want to hitch up their own dogs and head off into the snow!
Hardcover $15.29 | $16.99
Audacity Jones Steals the Show, by Kirby Larson
Here’s a fun adventure with both an elephant in danger and a magical cat! Audie is whisked from her orphanage home to help a detective prevent Harry Houdini’s biggest trick yet from being sabotaged. He’s going to make an elephant disappear, unless the absent-minded genius who is the brains of this trick isn’t “taken care off” by a jealous rival. And in the meantime, there’s the elephant himself, a young and mistreated animal, who must be saved! Audie’s highly intelligent and most unusual cat goes to New York with her, and helps her unravel the mystery and find just the right home for the elephant. It’s a fun visit to historic New York with enough historical detail to make it convincing, without weighing the story down. Animal lovers and young fans of detective stories will love it. It’s the sequel to Audacity Jones to the Rescue, but it stands on its own just fine.
The Wizard’s Dog, by Eric Kahn Gale
Nosewise is the best magical dog of 2017! His master, Merlin, and Merlin’s apprentice, Morgana, keeps him shut out of the study where they do their own magics, but Nosewise is sure he can learn to do the amazing things Morgana can. And when Morgana hangs a magical stone around his neck, Nosewise can talk! When Merlin and Morgana are kidnapped by the fae, who are taking over the mortal world, it’s up to Nosewise to rescue them. He befriends a boy named Arthur, and together they find the sword in the stone…The story is told from Nosewise’s doggish point of view, which makes it a fun twist on the Arthur legend. Nosewise’s own magic is likewise of a doggish bent, with the nose being crucial. And the conclusion, in which Nosewise shows just what a Good Dog he is, is a lovely twist on the legend!
Lesser Spotted Animals, by Martin Brown
Nonfiction can be fun! If you have a kid who still enjoys books with facts and pictures, do offer them this gathering of unusual animals, in which information is combined with humorous asides and appealing illustrations (some realistic, others funny cartons)! Learn about numbats, fairy armadillos, and a host of other lesser-known animals. Information includes data on the animals’ diet, habitat and status in the wild, from critically endangered to the more cheerful least concern species. It encourages appreciation for these animals in a truly engaging way!
What books would you recommend to young readers who love animals?