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.
Mr. Fox – Fantastic Mr. Fox – Roald Dahl
Mr. Fox is…well, fantastic! My memories of reading this book as a child are filled with awe and wonder at how truly fantastic this fox was. Not only does he come up with brilliant plots to escape the clutches of the three horrible farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean, he also finds a way to steal enough food for a huge feast with all his hungry animal friends.
Peter Rabbit – The Tales of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter
I used to love Beatrix Potter’s books and the animations on the TV when I was younger. These beautifully illustrated tales of a naughty rabbit, who one day ventures into the forbidden garden of Mr. McGregor. After stuffing his face with vegetables in the garden, he gets a nasty shock and is chased around by the angry Mr. McGregor and his cunning cat.
Reepicheep – The Chronicles Of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
Out of all the animals in Narnia, Reepicheep stands out the most. He may only be a mouse, but he is one of the most courageous warriors of Narnia. He is fearless, loyal and very chivalrous. His character is particularly entertaining in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where he travels with King Caspian across the sea in search of Aslan’s country in the ‘utter East’.
Gobbolino – Gobbolino, the Witch’s Cat – Ursula Moray Williams
Has there ever been such a sorrowful little creature? Poor Gobbolino was born a witch’s cat, but unlike his sister, Sootica, he is unhappy with his magic powers. He wants to be a good, kitchen cat, with a loving family to play with. Little Gobbolino is deserted by the witch he lives with for having a white paw, and goes on his own way, in search of a new and normal home. Unfortunately his magic is always getting him into trouble and he is not accepted anywhere. This is such a sad story, and it’s so easy to feel sorry for the unlucky cat. All ends well, however, and our furry friend does get his happy ending.
Bigwig – Watership Down – Richard Adams
When I first read this book, Hazel was my favourite character. He is the obvious choice, being friendly, trustworthy and a hero. However, when I read the book for a second time, I decided that the character of Bigwig is a lot more interesting. At first, we are not sure whether to trust him, as he is boisterous and unkind, but he proves himself over and over again by saving the rabbits from terrible dangers and risking his life. By the end of the book, he is a treasured and valuable member of the rabbits’ new home.
As I said, it’s hard to choose only five! Do you think I’ve missed anyone important? Maybe you prefer the annoying smile of The Cheshire Cat, the more realistic Black Beauty or the comical Winnie the Pooh?