animals, middle grade fiction

9 Stellar Middle Grade Reads for Animal Lovers

Rain Reign
Animals are a permanent fixture in children’s books. From Spotto Frog and Toadto Elephant and Piggiekids love their animals. And those little kids grow up to become older readers, and those older readers carry their love of pets, pond dwellers, and pachyderms with them. For those readers, here’s a list of middle grade novels, both new and old, centered around our animal friends.

Rain Reign

Rain Reign

Hardcover $17.99

Rain Reign

Ann M. Martin

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Hardcover $17.99

Rain Reign, by Ann M. Martin
Rose Howard has a hard time connecting with people. They never follow the rules, they don’t understand her obsession with homonyms, and many of them let her down; especially her often-angry alcoholic father. Which is why Rose’s best friend is her dog, Rain. When a heavy storm descends upon Rose’s town, Rain goes missing. Rose won’t rest until her friend is found, but finding Rain isn’t the perfect ending she hopes it will be.

Rain Reign, by Ann M. Martin
Rose Howard has a hard time connecting with people. They never follow the rules, they don’t understand her obsession with homonyms, and many of them let her down; especially her often-angry alcoholic father. Which is why Rose’s best friend is her dog, Rain. When a heavy storm descends upon Rose’s town, Rain goes missing. Rose won’t rest until her friend is found, but finding Rain isn’t the perfect ending she hopes it will be.

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan

Hardcover $16.99 $18.99

The One and Only Ivan

Katherine Applegate , Patricia Castelao

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The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
Winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal, Applegate’s beautiful novel tells the true story of Ivan, a gorilla who spent twenty-seven years behind a glass-walled enclosure in a Tacoma shopping mall. At first, Ivan is happy with his television, his painting, and his friends: Stella (an elephant), and Bob (a dog). He has no memory of his life in the jungle. But a new arrival, a tragedy, and a promise awaken Ivan to the world outside his enclosure. Told in free verse, through Ivan’s eyes, The One and Only Ivan is a powerful story of awareness, captivity, and love.

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
Winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal, Applegate’s beautiful novel tells the true story of Ivan, a gorilla who spent twenty-seven years behind a glass-walled enclosure in a Tacoma shopping mall. At first, Ivan is happy with his television, his painting, and his friends: Stella (an elephant), and Bob (a dog). He has no memory of his life in the jungle. But a new arrival, a tragedy, and a promise awaken Ivan to the world outside his enclosure. Told in free verse, through Ivan’s eyes, The One and Only Ivan is a powerful story of awareness, captivity, and love.

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Hardcover $19.99

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Kate DiCamillo , K. G. Campbell

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Hardcover $19.99

Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo
Another Newbery Medal winner, this time from 2014,  Flora and Ulysses is an illustrated novel featuring the unlikely duo of ten year old Flora Belle Buckman and Ulysses, a squirrel whose near brush with death-by-vacuum cleaner has left him with superhero powers. Flora is trying to navigate her way through her parents’ recent divorce; Ulysses is exploring his newfound passion for words and donuts. The two become inseparable, but Flora’s mother is not happy with her daughter’s new friend, and hatches a plan to get rid of Ulysses. Permanently.

Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo
Another Newbery Medal winner, this time from 2014,  Flora and Ulysses is an illustrated novel featuring the unlikely duo of ten year old Flora Belle Buckman and Ulysses, a squirrel whose near brush with death-by-vacuum cleaner has left him with superhero powers. Flora is trying to navigate her way through her parents’ recent divorce; Ulysses is exploring his newfound passion for words and donuts. The two become inseparable, but Flora’s mother is not happy with her daughter’s new friend, and hatches a plan to get rid of Ulysses. Permanently.

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web

Hardcover $9.99

Charlotte's Web

E. B White , Garth Williams , Kate DiCamillo

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Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
You just can’t create a list of children’s books for animal lovers without including this classic. Right from the very first pages, when Fern saves Wilbur from her father’s ax, you know these two are going to have something special. And then there’s Charlotte the kindly spider, and Templeton the cranky rat, and the other barn animals who join together to not only save Wilbur from slaughter, but encourage him as he grows into Zuckerman Farm’s prize pig. Nevermind that the reader will sob their way through the ending; this book remains one of the most beloved and best-selling children’s paperbacks of all time.

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
You just can’t create a list of children’s books for animal lovers without including this classic. Right from the very first pages, when Fern saves Wilbur from her father’s ax, you know these two are going to have something special. And then there’s Charlotte the kindly spider, and Templeton the cranky rat, and the other barn animals who join together to not only save Wilbur from slaughter, but encourage him as he grows into Zuckerman Farm’s prize pig. Nevermind that the reader will sob their way through the ending; this book remains one of the most beloved and best-selling children’s paperbacks of all time.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

Hardcover $19.99

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

Kathi Appelt

In Stock Online

Hardcover $19.99

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, by Kathi Appelt
Meet Bingo and J’Miah, raccoon brothers and the two newest Sugar Man Swamp Scouts. The swamp is being threatened by a land developer and Bingo and J’Miah are tasked with going to wake the Sugar Man, protector of the swamp. No problem. Except nobody’s seen the Sugar Man in decades. And rumor has it, he’s not the friendliest creature when you do run into him. And he’s guarded by a giant snake. Oh, and a gang of wild hogs is also headed toward the swamp. It’s quite the initiation for these two brave raccoons.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, by Kathi Appelt
Meet Bingo and J’Miah, raccoon brothers and the two newest Sugar Man Swamp Scouts. The swamp is being threatened by a land developer and Bingo and J’Miah are tasked with going to wake the Sugar Man, protector of the swamp. No problem. Except nobody’s seen the Sugar Man in decades. And rumor has it, he’s not the friendliest creature when you do run into him. And he’s guarded by a giant snake. Oh, and a gang of wild hogs is also headed toward the swamp. It’s quite the initiation for these two brave raccoons.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

Hardcover $19.99

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

Robert C. O'Brien , Zena Bernstein

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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brien
Another classic (and Newbery Medal winner, this time for 1972). The home of the widowed field mouse Mrs. Frisby is in danger of being destroyed by the farmer’s plow, and her youngest son, Timothy, is too sick to move to their summer home. In seeking help to save her home, Mrs. Frisby discovers a community of highly intelligent rats, led by the brilliant Nicodemus. Nicodemus and Mrs. Frisby’s late husband, Jonathan, were the sole survivors of a group of rats who once escaped from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Now, the Rats of NIMH are on a mission to create a colony completely free of dependence on humans. This is a story so complex, you quickly forget you’re reading about a group of rodents.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brien
Another classic (and Newbery Medal winner, this time for 1972). The home of the widowed field mouse Mrs. Frisby is in danger of being destroyed by the farmer’s plow, and her youngest son, Timothy, is too sick to move to their summer home. In seeking help to save her home, Mrs. Frisby discovers a community of highly intelligent rats, led by the brilliant Nicodemus. Nicodemus and Mrs. Frisby’s late husband, Jonathan, were the sole survivors of a group of rats who once escaped from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Now, the Rats of NIMH are on a mission to create a colony completely free of dependence on humans. This is a story so complex, you quickly forget you’re reading about a group of rodents.

Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-Dixie

Hardcover $14.15

Because of Winn-Dixie

Kate DiCamillo

Hardcover $14.15

Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo
A 2001 Newbery Honor book (anybody sensing a theme here?), this is a story for anyone who has ever loved a rescued animal. Opal is lonely after her mother abandons the family, and her father, The Preacher, resettles them in a trailer park in Florida. Lonely, that is, until the day a dog wrecks a grocery store and Opal decides to adopt him as her own. She names the dog Winn-Dixie (after the store, of course) and Winn-Dixie becomes Opal’s constant companion. But this is not just Opal’s story. It’s also that of Franny Block, a librarian with a sad family history. And Amanda, whose nastiness is hiding a family tragedy. It’s also the story of recovering alcoholic Gloria Dump. And The Preacher. Through Winn-Dixie, Opal discovers that everyone has a story, and that by telling those stories, we learn from one another.

Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo
A 2001 Newbery Honor book (anybody sensing a theme here?), this is a story for anyone who has ever loved a rescued animal. Opal is lonely after her mother abandons the family, and her father, The Preacher, resettles them in a trailer park in Florida. Lonely, that is, until the day a dog wrecks a grocery store and Opal decides to adopt him as her own. She names the dog Winn-Dixie (after the store, of course) and Winn-Dixie becomes Opal’s constant companion. But this is not just Opal’s story. It’s also that of Franny Block, a librarian with a sad family history. And Amanda, whose nastiness is hiding a family tragedy. It’s also the story of recovering alcoholic Gloria Dump. And The Preacher. Through Winn-Dixie, Opal discovers that everyone has a story, and that by telling those stories, we learn from one another.

On the Road to Mr. Mineo's

On the Road to Mr. Mineo's

Hardcover $16.99

On the Road to Mr. Mineo's

Barbara O'Connor

Hardcover $16.99

On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s, by Barbara O’Connor
A sleepy South Carolina town in the summer. A one-legged pigeon. It’s not exactly a recipe for action, but that’s just what happens when the one-legged Sherman escapes from Mr. Mineo’s flock of homing pigeons and sets off on a little adventure. Over the next eight days, Sherman makes friends in the town of Meadville, South Carolina while, on the outskirts of town, Mr. Mineo worries about his missing pigeon. Told through the eyes of eight characters, each with their own distinctive voice, On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s has it all. Childhood, adventure, life lessons…and a one-legged pigeon.

On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s, by Barbara O’Connor
A sleepy South Carolina town in the summer. A one-legged pigeon. It’s not exactly a recipe for action, but that’s just what happens when the one-legged Sherman escapes from Mr. Mineo’s flock of homing pigeons and sets off on a little adventure. Over the next eight days, Sherman makes friends in the town of Meadville, South Carolina while, on the outskirts of town, Mr. Mineo worries about his missing pigeon. Told through the eyes of eight characters, each with their own distinctive voice, On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s has it all. Childhood, adventure, life lessons…and a one-legged pigeon.

Pie

Pie

Hardcover $16.99

Pie

Sarah Weeks

Hardcover $16.99

Pie, by Sarah Weeks
Alice’s Aunt Polly, renowned Pie Queen of Ipswitch, has died, and with her goes her world-famous pie crust recipe. Or so everybody thinks, until it’s revealed that Polly has willed the recipe to her very large, very cranky cat, Lardo. And then she’s left Lardo in the care of Alice. Who leaves a recipe to a cat? The entire town is flabbergasted, but Alice is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, and along the way she discovers quite a few things about herself.

Pie, by Sarah Weeks
Alice’s Aunt Polly, renowned Pie Queen of Ipswitch, has died, and with her goes her world-famous pie crust recipe. Or so everybody thinks, until it’s revealed that Polly has willed the recipe to her very large, very cranky cat, Lardo. And then she’s left Lardo in the care of Alice. Who leaves a recipe to a cat? The entire town is flabbergasted, but Alice is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, and along the way she discovers quite a few things about herself.