I’ve never written a talking animal. I’m not inspired by reducing the natural limitations of characters. In fact more than once I’ve written a character whose ability to communicate is somehow impeded. This is more narratively interesting to me.
That said, I’ve read many books with talking animals, and enjoyed them. I thought for this week’s MMGM I’d list a few.
I’ll already reviewed THE ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIONS by Dodie Smith. Great but under-rated book. The talking animals never become forced in this, because they can only talk to each other, and also because there are a few scenes where they struggle to communicate with the humans.
CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E.B. White is another classic talking animal book, that I compare with another similarly themed book wherein the animal doesn’t talk. Of course this is an absolute must read classic.
A CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE by George Selden is a book I remember loving as a child. I don’t know about now. Maybe it’s a different world, but I can’t see an insect protagonist taking off today (excuse the pun). But this is a good one for younger readers.
STUART LITLLE, also by E.B. White is a strange one. Stuart is “born” to the little family, but is a mouse. He can speak to his family, he can speak to the cat. Does the cat speak to the family? Why would intelligent animals submit to being pets? Another great one for little kids, but these days, I think kids over about 7 would start asking uncomfortable questions. Maybe that’s good.
One of my favorite talking animal books is SILVERWING by Kenneth Oppel. What I love about this now extensive series of books about bats is that their culture is presented as very “batty”. Yes, they speak to each other, but only about things of relevance to bats. They have little or no knowledge of the human world (in fact I think at least one of the books in the series is set in pre-human times). Oppel was very thorough in creating the culture and mythology of these bats and their interactions with nature, each other and other animals such as the owls, with whom they are at war. In my experience this is an excellent book for slightly older reluctant boys 10-14 years. SILVERWING is 59000 words and has a reading level of grade 4-5.
Talking animals may be out of style with agents and editors, but I don’t think they are with readers. And that’s all that counts. While I don’t have any plans to write a talking animal book anytime soon, you never know. Maybe inspiration will strike.
For this week’s I Can’t Wait to Read I’m going with CHOMP by Carl Hiaasen. It sounds like a great and silly adventure in the real world of reality TV. I love the cover too – so graphic. Hello? Book Depository?
For this week’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
For other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts check out these blogs:
- Joanne Fritz @ My Brain on Books
- Ben Langhinrchs @ My Comfy Chair
- Sherrie Petersen @ Write About Now
- Brooke Favero @ Somewhere in the Middle
- Myrna Foster @ Night Writer
- Ally Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy
- Barbara Watson @ Novel and Nouveau
- Deb Marshall @ Just Deb!
- Anita Laydon Miller’s Middle Grade Blog
- Michael G-G @ Middle Grade Mafioso
- Natalie Aguirre @ Literary Rambles
- Ms. Yingling @ Ms. Yingling Reads
- Jennifer Rumberger
- Pam Torres @ So I’m Fifty
- Mary @ Writer’s Butt Does Not Apply to Me
- The Accidental Novelist