Top Ten Favorite Animals in Books

Happy Tuesday readers!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl, is on animals in books. Those animals can be real. Or fantasy. Or a mix of the two. If you want to see more lists, check out Jana’s post (linked above).

So I have a friend who is a real animal lover. So much so that she took one of my books hostage, probably 8-9 years ago now, because an animal died. Several years later, in retaliation, she mailed me a picture book in which an animal died. And in the book that I mailed her recently, an animal died (that I’d forgotten about). At least she didn’t hold that one against me since the writing in that book is so beautiful.

So when this topic came up, I figured I ought to redeem my heartless self for loving that book by making a list of other animals I love in books. Spoiler: some of them do die.

Ivan from The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

When I used to model fluent reading for students, this is one of the first books I’d pick up. Then, as other classes began to teach it, I’d go read for them as well, just to get voices in their heads (apparently they didn’t like the audiobook that much. I think it’s a different experience to have someone read dynamically to you).

This is also one of those books I had kids return to me quite upset, especially when they found out that while the story is fiction, Ivan was a real gorilla.

Manchee from The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

I just want to take a second and mention that the way Ness/the publishers did Noise in this series was awesome. Also, Nick Podehl brought Manchee to life in a way that I didn’t get from just the print text.

Old Dan and Little Ann from Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

I read this story as a child and I still talk about how much it messed me up. I feel like it’s old enough a novel at this point that saying that both dogs die at the end isn’t so much of a spoiler as it is a commentary on the fates of dogs in novels written around the same time as Where the Red Fern Grows.

Mind you, this is one of my favorite childhood novels. But I read it once and absolutely refuse ever to read it again. (I should probably amend this now — I read lots of books that make me cry more than once.)

Iorek Byrnison from His Dark Materials (series) by Philip Pullman

I don’t know what to say about Iorek more than — he’s a fiercely loyal king of the armored bears who kicks rear and takes names. I definitely would want to be on his side in a fight.

A-L (the wyverary) from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherine Valiente

What kind of YA fantasy reading nerd would I be if I didn’t include A-L on this list? I mean, A-L is a dragon. And a library. Essentially a repository of knowledge on things from A to L. How much cooler could you get?

Gum Baby from Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

I’m sure that if Gum Baby saw this list, she’d go, “Gum Baby ain’t no animal. Sap attack!” And I’d have tar all over my face.

This is another character the audiobook narrator really just brought to life. As I typed what I imagined Gum Baby would say, I heard Amir Abdullah’s Gum Baby voice in my head. And it made me smile involuntarily.

Maia from The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae

In The Kinder Poison, Maia is a shifter. She can shift into any animal she has a pelt for. There’s a stigma against shifters – they aren’t born, they’re made through murder. Maia’s a really interesting character, though, and significantly more complex once readers learn her origin story.

Gerald & Piggie from the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems



I have three young nieces. When the oldest was younger (she’s nine at the time of this writing), I gifted her with one of the Elephant and Piggie books. My brother-in-law appreciated that it made him laugh.

From the perspective of a teacher, it’s a really easy text to use to teach students about prosody — the speed and inflection we use when reading aloud. The text is accessible enough that they can practice with each other. And when they do it’s incredibly cute.

Lying Cat from Saga by Bryan K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Sometimes I forget that not everyone reads Saga the way we do in my house. If someone says something untrue (particularly when it’s on purpose), my automatic response is, “Lying,” as one does when they think Lying Cat is the best cat ever.

Orma from Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Really, I just like dragons.

That got a bit longer than I thought it was going to. Did any of the animals I mentioned make your list? Leave me a link in the comments so I can check out your post, or let me know about your favorite animal from books.

Happy reading and don’t forget to be awesome.


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