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Love That Pup

By Cathy Kirkman

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About this blog: This blog explores life in Palo Alto with our dogs, cats and other pets, as well as the urban wildlife around us, the title being a reference to Sharon Creech?s lovely story, "Love That Dog." I grew up in Palo Alto surrounded by ...  (More)

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About Foss: An unscientific survey of favorite children's books about animals

Uploaded: Nov 29, 2013
This post is part of an occasional series on animals and pets in art and literature, that I'm calling "About Foss," after
Edward Lear's
famous cat. Lear wrote about his cat Foss in his letters, when he wasn't busy writing The Owl and the Pussycat and other fanciful and nonsense poems. Foss lived to be 17 years old and was buried at Lear's Villa Tennyson in San Remo, Italy. Here's Foss in one of his poses for your enjoyment:




With the gift-giving season upon us, this post is about favorite works of children's literature with animal themes, for younger children and youth readers. A meaningful holiday gift for a youngster could be a collection of your favorite books from childhood, or some recently published works to discover. My children are older (12 and 20), so I'm in the process of whittling down our children's book collection through the LIttle Free Library in front of our house. I tend to favor the books I knew as a child that have stood the test of time, along with newer works that are on their way to becoming classics.

It's an impossible task to create a top 10 list, and there's no ranking within each list. A parenthetical "C" means Caldecott medal for best picture book illustrations, and an "N" means Newbery medal for best children's book. The American Library Association has a number of other medal categories, so it's worth checking out these other lists here.

I've also solicited lists from fellow Palo Alto online blogger, Nick Taylor, who writes about literature at On the Page, as well as the Palo Alto public library, Books Inc. at Town & Country, and Kepler's in Menlo Park. Both bookstores welcome dogs and have water and treats for them.

Nick, who is a published author and English professor, (check out his work here), says, "In my mind, a great children's book is one that inspires a child to pick up another book. Books about animals, or with animal characters, can help children find a way into a story that might otherwise daunt them. Few children would pull down from the shelf a three-hundred-page epic about a society whose homeland is under attack, but if the characters were rabbits (as in Richard Adams's Watership Down) they just might!"

Books that turn up on more than one list are in bold. I'll first state the obvious by making The Story of Babar, 1931 by Jean De Brunhoff, The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss, 1957, and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, 1963 (C), my honorary top choices (Curious George is below on the library's list). So here goes!

Cathy's List for Younger Children:
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, 1936 (illustrated by Robert Lawson)
Swimmy by Leo Lionni, 1964 (C)
The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward, 1952 (C)
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag, 1928 (N)
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, 1942 (C)
Tuesday by David Wiesner, 1991 (C)
Little Red Riding Hood by William Wegman (Weimaraner fame), 1993
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, 1942 (author of Good Night Moon)
The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack, 1933 (illustrated by Kurt Wiese, who also illustrated Bambi and the Freddy the Detective pig series)
Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty, 1938
Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats, 1964 (author of The Snowy Day [C)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, 1969

Cathy's List for Youth Readers:
King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry 1948, (N) (author of Misty of Chincoteague [N)
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, 1961 (my own dog Lady is a redbone coonhound like Big Dan and Little Ann)
Sounder by William H Armstrong, 1969 (N)
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1872
Love that Dog by Sharon Creech (2001, try reading together as spoken word play)
Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, 1952 (N)
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, 1908 (see also The Reluctant Dragon, 1898)
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, 1960 (N)
My Father's Dragon (trilogy) by Ruth Stiles Gannett, 1948

Nick's List for Younger Children:
Meet My Cats by Leslie Anne Ivory, 1989
Rotten Ralph by Jack Gantos, 1976
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, 1956 (illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham)
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, 1942
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, 1993
Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant, 1997

Nick's List for Youth Readers:
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (2000) (N)
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo, 2001
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, 2012 (N)
Watership Down by Richard Adams, 1972
Warriors (series) by Erin Hunter, 2003

Palo Alto Library's List for Younger Children:
Harry, the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, 1956 (illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham)
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, 1993
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, 1994
The Dog Who Belonged to No One by Amy Hest, 2008
The Mitten by Jan Brett, 1999
A Mama for Owen by Marion Dane Bauer, 2007
Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin, 2000 (C)
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, 1942
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr., 1967 (illustrated by Eric Carle)
Curious George by H.A. Rey, 1941

Palo Alto Library's List for Youth Readers:
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, 2000 (N)
Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith, 1983
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, 1952 (N)
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, 2003 (N)
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, 1961
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1872
Lion Boy by Zizou Corder, 2003
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien, 1971 (N)
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, 1972 (N)
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, 2012 (N)

Books Inc. List for Younger Children:
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, 1956
Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes, 2004 (C)
Boot & Shoe by Marla Frazee (2012)
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag, 1928 (N)
Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman (2008)
Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner, 2013 (new release by author of Tuesday)
Library Lion by Kevin Hawkes, 2006
How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens, 2013
We're All in the Same Boat by Zachary Shapiro, 2009
A Story For Bear by Dennis Haseley, 2002

Books Inc. List for Youth Readers:
The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat, 1957
Ribsy by Beverly Cleary, 1964
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, 2002 (N)
The One & Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, 2012 (N)
Bunnicula by James Howe, 1979
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, 1982
Lara's Gift by Annemarie O'Brien, 2013
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard & Florence Atwater, 1938 (N)
Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat, 1962
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, 2003 (N)

Kepler's List of Older Kids Pet Books:
Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka & Mac Barnett, 2013
Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer Holland, 2011
Unlikely Loves by Jennifer Holland, 2013
The Cats Of Tanglewood Forest by Charles De Lint, 2013
Mousenet by Prudence Breitrose, 2011 (also Mousemobile, 2013)
Flora & Ulysses by Kate diCamillo, 2013
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen, 2012
Pie by Sarah Weeks, 2011
One White Dolphin by Gill Lewis, 2012
Smells Like A Dog by Suzanne Selfors, 2010

Kepler's List of Dog Books:
Boo Life of the World's Cutest Little Dog by J.H.Lee, 2011
Daisy Gets Lost by Chris Raschka, 2013
Shake by Carli Davidson, 2013
Underwater Dogs Kids Edition by Seth Casteel, 2013
Maddie On Things by Theron Humphrey, 2013 (Wegman-esque coonhound photography)
If Dogs Ran Free by Bob Dylan, 1970, illustrated by Scott Campbell, 2013
Dog by Matthew Van Fleet, 2007
Rocket's Mighty Words by Tad Hills, 2013
A Letter To My Dog by Robin Layton, 2012

Besides the public library and book stores, other local places to get books include The Bargain Box on California Avenue, the Goodwill over on El Camino Way (off East Meadow) and the Friends of the Palo Alto Libraries monthly book sales -- the Friends have an entire portable devoted to children's books, in addition to the rest of their inventory. FOPAL's next sale is the weekend of December 14th.

My thanks to Nick, and the staffs of the Palo Alto library, Books, Inc. and Kepler's, for submitting their lists.

What children's books about animals make your top 10 list? What books are we overlooking?

Happy holidays and happy reading!

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