I was going to do a top 5, but had too many books battling for places so decided to just do a list of books that I’ve enjoyed that feature animals as the main characters. So, in no particular order…
Bimbo & Topsy by Enid Blyton.
Blyton wrote hundreds of books about talking animals, and I can’t even remember this one that well, but I get a warm feeling whenever I think about it. It was about Bimbo, a naughty Siamese kitten, and Topsy, a somewhat stupid terrier who gets caught up in Bimbo’s mischief.
The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann.
This was one of my favourite TV shows as a child, and it’s one of those few examples of a children’s book that I enjoyed just as much as its TV/movie counterpart. It’s about woodland animals whose home is being ripped apart by humans, and so they travel to a nature reserve to make a new home there, meeting and helping other animals along the way.
Animal Farm by George Orwell.
This would be an excellent gateway book if you’re intimidated by the classics. It’s an easy read but it stays with you long after you’ve finished with it; the ending is so sinister and the line ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’ is one of my favourite quotes from all the books I’ve read. I’ve only read it once so am hoping to get around to re-reading soon. It’s a great dystopian.
Maus by Art Spiegelman.
This graphic biography tells the story of Spiegelman’s Jewish father, who was sent to a concentration camp during WW2. In this book, Jewish people are represented as mice, and the Nazis as cats chasing them. This is partly because of the way Jews were represented as rats in Nazi propaganda: Spiegelman turns this on its head in his masterpiece.
Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl.
I don’t discuss Roald Dahl enough in my blog. He was a big influence in my childhood: I didn’t read all of his books but the ones I did read have stuck with me forever. I remember them more clearly even than the Enid Blyton books I read, which I read constantly.
Fantastic Mr. Fox isn’t one of my favourite Dahl books, but it’s a fun read and I’d recommend it for your kids, if you have any. Or if you’re like me and just like to read children’s books for the sake of it. It’s about a gentleman fox with a family to look after and the farmers who hate him.
(Has anyone read his adult stuff? I’m thinking about picking some up. Worth it?)
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit is obviously the most famous of Potter’s sweet, short books, but I was never that big a fan. I loved everything else of hers that I read, though, but the one I probably read the most was Benjamin Bunny. This is actually the sequel to Peter Rabbit, where Peter and Benjamin go back to the garden where Peter lost his clothes in the previous book. (My favourite thing about Potter’s books were the illustrations of animals in little clothes.)