Top 5 Animals in Children’s Literature

Children’s literature is simply packed with animals. They can range from loyal pets to dangerous baddies, silly creatures to courageous heroes and most importantly, there are no limits to the imagination. They can walk on two feet, talk and dress up in boots, glasses and waistcoats.

With a world out there of wonderful animal characters, it is difficult to pick just five, but here are a few of my favourites.

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The White King – György Dragomán

I have always found that a disturbing story, written from a child’s perspective, can be so much more moving and hard hitting than if it were written from an adult’s point of view. Books such as Niccolo Ammaniti’s I’m Not Scared and The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne are very cleverly written, using simple, child-like language and ideas to tell a tale where the horror is just below the surface, not mentioned, but always felt. Only a talented writer could pull off the subtle style where the evils of the book are unspoken but ever present.

György Dragomán, it turns out is one of those talented writers. His second novel about twelve year old Djata growing up under a communist dictatorship is poignant and alive with childish energy. Continue reading

Bookscene – Nottingham

I absolutely love discovering cheap bookshops. So imagine how delighted I was when walking around my new neighbourhood this weekend I found one just around the corner!

Bookscene has something for everyone. There is a particularly large science-fiction and horror/crime section, but there is plenty more on offer here. Not being the hugest fan of science-fiction, I headed straight over to the general fiction shelf and was happy to find that there was a lot of choice. I was even happier when I saw the prices! A book for 75p? Could I have read that right? It was then a struggle not to grab books by the handful and buy them all! Continue reading

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams

If you are familiar with other books by Douglas Adams, you will be aware that he is a pretty wacky writer with some very original ideas. He has the unique talent of being able to write absolute nonsense and turn it into a readable story that actually makes sense. Sort of. Well most of the time anyway.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is bursting with eccentric characters, my favourite being the endearing and forgetful Reg, the Professor of Chronology at St Cedd’s, Cambridge. Odd things are happening in his house, as the protagonist of this story, Richard finds out when he is invited to dinner with the Professor one evening. After all, finding a horse in your host’s bathroom is not something you would normally expect to happen. Continue reading

The Wild – Esther Freud

When I picked up this book, I thought it looked like a charming story of the ups and downs of childhood. The front cover and the blurb on the back did not prepare me for the dark and intensely disturbing atmosphere of The Wild.

When Francine, a single mother and her two children move in with the bohemian William and his three daughters, life seems great. They have healthy meals, sing songs and have plenty of outdoor space to roam around in. Nine year old Tess loves her new home, where she has her own plot of garden and gets to look after chickens. Her older brother Jake and their vicious but loyal cat, Odin, aren’t so happy with their new family. As life goes on and Francine and William become more involved, Tess slowly begins to realise that the new man in her mother’s life is not as perfect as he appears to be and that she will never be fully accepted into his family. Continue reading

Diaries of a Cultured Cat – Brigitte Downey

When I first found this book, I couldn’t wait to read it. Being a cat lover, the title immediately appealed to me. Now that I have finished it, I have mixed feelings.

Diaries of a Cultured Cat is a nice, light-hearted read about Fluffy, also known as Lucia. She finds herself whisked away from her home in Kerry, Ireland where she spent her days as a kitten with her beloved Deirdre. The little girl, Deirdre and her cousin April, sneakily pack the young cat into April’s luggage to take home to Wimbledon, London, where Deirdre hopes she will lead a more cultural life than in the wilds of Kerry. Continue reading

Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood

Well Atwood has certainly done it again. While reading this book, I was transported to another world – a future world where mankind has gone too far and experimented one too many times with technology and genetics to a devastating result.

This new world is empty and cruel. The sun is harsh and the creatures have become wild and dangerous. The creatures are strange hybrids, spliced together to make odd cross breeds, my favourite being the rakunks, a cross between a raccoon and a skunk – but without the smell, making them perfect pets. There are also spoat/giders, wolvogs and pigoons. Continue reading