Today I’ve got animals on the brain, and not because I am worried about black cats on Friday the 13th! It’s because all of the books I am currently working feature a furry friend. I am being charmed by Charlie, the coyote in The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton. I am once again being amused by Grimalkin in The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa, and I am enthralled by the direwolves in A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin. All of these four-legged characters got me thinking about the role animals play in YA literature. Animal characters are the staple of children’s literature, but by the time readers get to the teen section humans reign supreme as the main character. Thankfully there are still many animals that shine in the role of secondary characters. As you look over my lists you may notice some missing titles. I have intentionally excluded books where I know something bad happens to the animal in the story. I have also made a note of the books I haven’t read so I can’t say for sure what happens with the animals.
I am more of a dog person, but I do enjoy a good cat character sometimes. My favorite is Grimalkin.
1. Wisdom’s Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.
2. The Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison.
3. Warriors series by Erin Hunter (have not read. Not interested).
4. Cat Girl’s Day Off by Kimberley Pauley (have not read, looks really cute!).
5. Plain Kate by Erin Bow (have not read. Meant to.).
6. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.
7. Catboy by Eric Walters (have not read).
8. Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.
I am quite fond of the smelly old dog called the Doorman in I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. I wouldn’t want him to live with me, but I like hearing about him!
1. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak.
2. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (as a Clevelander, I am particularly fond of little Bernie Kosar!).
3. The Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart (I can’t remember if Polka Dot arrives in book 2 or 3).
4. Saving Zasha by Randi G. Barrow.
5. Robot Dreams by Sara Varon.
6. Mush! Sled Dogs with Issues by Glenn Eichler.
7. My Boyfriends’ Dogs by Dandi Daley Mackall.
8. Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick.
9. The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore.
HAY IS FOR THESE HORSES
I think one of my favorite YA animal characters ever is Tug, the little pony in The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan. I have not read any of the other books on the Horse list.
1. The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan.
2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
3. Horse Camp by Nicole Lea Helget.
4. The A Circuit series by Georgina Bloomberg.
5. The Georges and the Jewels by Jane Smiley.
DON’T LET THESE BOOKS GET YOUR GOAT
Can you believe I came up with three books off the top of my head that have goats in them? The goats in Texas Gothic are kind of mischievous. I like that in a goat.
1. Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart.
2. Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
3. Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell.
No animal list would be complete without mentioning Bovril, the perspicacious loris from Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series. I love him!
Who is your favorite critter character?