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It’s no secret that I love my pups and I know that I’m not the only animal lover out there. That’s why I thought it would be fun to round up a herd of books with animal characters.

Don’t you wish you could talk to animals, like Dr. Doolittle? I’d love to know what’s going on inside my dogs’ heads, but I don’t speak dog. However, through the magic of books, you can know what some animals are thinking and why they do what they do. Some of the books on the list are told from an animal’s point of view and some aren’t, but all have an important animal character. Some are pets, some are wild animals, or birds . . . there’s even a whale.  

Why don’t you snuggle up with your dog, cat, guinea pig, or whatever critter you know and love and settle in for some fun stories with animals?

Happy reading!

P.S.  Who are your favorite animals? Visit my Instagram account and tell me about them!

20 Middle Grade Books for Animal Lovers

1.  Pony by R. J. Palacio

Did you love the book or the movie Wonder? Pony is by the same author and you’re going to love it, too.

Amazon Description:  Twelve-year-old Silas is awoken in the dead of night by three menacing horsemen who take his father away. Silas is left shaken, scared, and alone, except for the presence of his companion, Mittenwool . . . who happens to be a ghost.

When a pony shows up at his door, Silas makes the courageous decision to leave his home and embark on a perilous journey to find his father. Along the way, he will face his fears to unlock the secrets of his past and explore the unfathomable mysteries of the world around him.

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2. Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt

When a camel takes on the care of two baby birds, anything can happen.

Amazon Description:  Zada is a camel with a treasure trove of stories to tell. She’s won camel races for the royal Pasha of Smyrna, crossed treacherous oceans to new land, led army missions with her best camel friend by her side, and outsmarted a far too pompous mountain lion.

But those stories were from before. Now, Zada wanders the desert as the last camel in Texas. But she’s not alone. Two tiny kestrel chicks are nestled in the fluff of fur between her ears—kee-killy-keeing for their missing parents—and a dust storm the size of a mountain is taking Zada on one more grand adventure. And it could lead to this achy old camel’s most brilliant story yet.

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3. Of a Feather by Dayna Lorentz

Reenie, a girl, and Rufus, a great horned owl, have a lot in common and a lot to teach us, too.

Amazon Description:  Great horned owl Rufus is eight months old and still can’t hunt. When his mother is hit by a car, he discovers just how dangerous the forest can be.

Reenie has given up on adults and learned how to care for herself—a good thing, since she’s sent to live with an aunt she’s never met. Yet this aunt has a wonderful secret: she’s a falconer who agrees to help Reenie catch an injured passage hawk in the wild and rehabilitate it.

When Reenie traps bedraggled Rufus, his eyes lock onto her heart, and they form a powerful friendship. But can Rufus learn to trust in the outside world and fly free? And can Reenie open her heart enough to truly soar?

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4. Warriors #1:  Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

This bestselling book is the first of the Warriors series, so if you like this one there are five more waiting for you to enjoy.

Amazon Description:  For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their ancestors. But the warrior code has been threatened, and the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger. The sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying—and some deaths are more mysterious than others.

In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary housecat named Rusty… who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.

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5. The Last Dogs: The Vanishing by Christopher Holt

When their people go missing, Max and his friends go on a quest to find them. I’m sure my dogs would do the same for me.

Amazon Description:  When all the humans in his world disappear, Max, a yellow Labrador Retriever, begins the search for his family. He knows that if he can just find Madame Curie, a wise, old black Lab, she’ll be able to help. Madame had a premonition of astonishing events to come — she might know where Max’s family is.

But Max can’t make the journey alone. Joined by friends Rocky and Gizmo, Max sets off to find Madame. Along the way, the trio must face a pack of angry wolves, forage for food in a land where kibble is akin to gold, befriend a house full of cats, and outsmart a gang of subway rats. Ultimately, they’ll have to escape from the biggest threat of all: the Corporation, a “perfect” society for dogs and by dogs, where nothing is quite as it seems.

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6. The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

Imagine going for a walk and finding a tiger! That’s not your everyday morning stroll, is it?

Amazon Description:  Walking through the misty Florida woods one morning, twelve-year-old Rob Horton is stunned to encounter a tiger—a real-life, very large tiger—pacing back and forth in a cage.

What’s more, on the same extraordinary day, he meets Sistine Bailey, a girl who shows her feelings as readily as Rob hides his. As they learn to trust each other, and ultimately, to be friends, Rob and Sistine prove that some things—like memories, and heartache, and tigers—can’t be locked up forever.

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7. The Taken (Foxcraft #1) by Inbali Iserles

See the world through the eyes of a fox . . . a magical fox. Magic + animals is always a good combo, don’t you agree? The first book in a trilogy.

Amazon Description: Isla and her brother are two young foxes living just outside the lands of the furless — humans. The life of a fox is filled with dangers, but Isla has begun to learn mysterious skills meant to help her survive.

Then the unthinkable happens. Returning to her den, Isla finds it set ablaze and surrounded by strange foxes, and her family is nowhere in sight. Forced to flee, she escapes into the cold, gray world of the furless.

Now Isla must navigate this bewildering and deadly terrain, all while being hunted by a ruthless enemy. In order to survive, she will need to master the ancient arts of her kind — magical gifts of cunning known only to foxes. She must unravel the secrets of foxcraft.

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8. An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

Inspired by a true story from World War II, which makes it an even more amazing story.  

Amazon Description:  Lizzie and Karl’s mother is a zoo keeper; the family has become attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene, who will be destroyed as a precautionary measure so she and the other animals don’t run wild should the zoo be hit by bombs. The family persuades the zoo director to let Marlene stay in their garden instead.

When the city is bombed, the family flees with thousands of others, but how can they walk the same route when they have an elephant in tow, and keep themselves safe? Along the way, they meet Peter, a Canadian navigator who risks his own capture to save the family.

Here is a story that brings together an unlikely group of survivors whose faith in kindness and love proves the best weapon of all.

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9. Owl’s Outstanding Donuts by Robin Yardi

How can you resist an owl who loves donuts? Also…gloop. Warning: may cause a serious craving for donuts.

Amazon Description:  Ever since Mattie Waters lost her mother, she’s been sharing a trailer with her aunt Molly, the proud owner of Owl’s Outstanding Donuts. This hoot of a donut shop serves up delicious snacks to people driving down California’s Highway One—treats like the Turkey Talon, the Banana Slug Bar, and the Strawberry Iced Classic.

Mattie loves her aunt and the shop, even if she’s still dealing with a life without her mom. But not everybody is a fan of Owl’s Outstanding Donuts.

When an owl taps on Mattie’s window one night, Mattie looks out to see suspicious activity not far from the shop. A shady duo is dumping gloop near the highway. And soon people want to blame Aunt Molly! With help from her friends, Mattie sets out to find the real gloopers. Along the way, she’ll face fears that have followed her since her mother’s passing—and get to know Alfred, a stuffy, donut-loving owl who’s also on the case.

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10. See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Perfect for fans of Counting by 7s, space, dogs, stories about family and…well, anyone, really.

Amazon Description:  11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977.

From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

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11. Flora & Ulysses:  The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

Not only is this book laugh-out-loud funny, it features a superhero squirrel!

Amazon Description:  It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is just the right person to step in and save him.

What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry — and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.

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12. On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s by Barbara O’Connor

How can one little pigeon cause so much fuss?

Amazon Description:  Summer days drift by slowly in Meadville, South Carolina–that is, until Sherman the one-legged pigeon flies into town and causes a ruckus. First Stella, who’s been begging for a dog, spots him on top of a garage roof and decides she wants him for a pet. Then there’s Ethel and Amos, an old couple who sees the pigeon in their barn keeping company with a little brown dog that barks all night. The pigeon lands smack in the middle of Mutt Raynard’s head, but he’s the town liar, so no one believes him. And when Stella’s brother Levi and his scabby-kneed, germ-infested friends notice the pigeon, they join the chase, too.

Meanwhile, across town, Mr. Mineo has one less homing pigeon than he used to…

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13. The Boy Who Met a Whale by Nizrana Farook

This book isn’t coming out for a couple of weeks, but you can pre-order it now. And with all the adventure inside—Shipwreck! Sea Turtles! Treasure! A whale!—it sounds like something we don’t want to miss.

Amazon Description:  A Sri Lankan fisherboy is swept up in a thrilling seafaring adventure, complete with a kidnapping, missing treasure, and a huge blue whale!  

Razi, a local fisherboy, is watching turtle eggs hatch when he sees a boat bobbing into view. With a chill, he notices a small, still hand hanging over the side.

Inside is Zheng, who’s escaped a shipwreck and is full of tales of sea monsters and missing treasure. But the villains who are after Zheng are soon after Razi and his sister, Shifa, too. And so begins an exhilarating escapade in the shadow of the biggest sea monster of them all.

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14. Stella by McCall Hoyle

Stella is a special dog with a serious problem. See the world through Stella’s eyes (and nose) as she tries to figure out how to help the girl who adopts her.

Amazon description:  Ever since she was a puppy, Stella was trained to use her powerful beagle nose to sniff out dangerous chemicals and help her handler keep people safe. But during a routine security inspection, Stella misses the scent of an explosive. The sound of the blast is loud and scary. Unable to go back to work because of her anxiety, Stella is retired as a working dog.

When a young girl name Cloe wants to adopt Stella, the beagle knows this is her last chance to prove her worth. But how? When Stella smells a strange chemical inside Cloe’s body, a scent that surges just before the girl has a seizure, Stella’s nose makes the connection. But how can Stella warn her new family without them thinking she’s having an anxiety attack? How can she convince others that she can be a new kind of service dog and hopefully save Cloe’s life?

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15. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Sometimes people laugh about being “raised by wolves” but for Miyax, also known as Julie, it’s no joke.

Amazon Description:  To her small village, she is known as Miyax; to her friend in San Francisco, she is Julie. When her life in the village becomes dangerous, Miyax runs away, only to find herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness.

Miyax tries to survive by copying the ways of a pack of wolves and soon grows to love her new wolf family. Life in the wilderness is a struggle, but when she finds her way back to civilization, Miyax is torn between her old and new lives. Is she the Miyax of her human village—or Julie of the wolves?

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16.  One-Third Nerd by Gennifer Choldenko

Liam and his sisters will do whatever it takes to save their beloved pet. Wouldn’t you?

Amazon Description:  Fifth grade is not for amateurs, according to Liam. Luckily, he knows that being more than one-third nerd is not cool. Liam lives in the Bay area near San Francisco with his mom and two younger sisters. Dakota is fascinated by science and has a big personality but struggles to make friends; Izzy, a child with Down syndrome, makes friends easily and notices things that go past everyone else. Dad lives across town, but he’s over a lot. And then there’s Cupcake, their lovable German shepherd, who guards their basement apartment.

Recently, Cupcake has a problem—she’s peeing in the house. The kids need to make enough money to take her to the vet before their landlord upstairs finds out. And Mom and Dad have said if Cupcake doesn’t stop, they will find her a new home. But the kids will never let Cupcake go. Can they save her?

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17.  Creatures of the Flood (Bamboo Kingdom #1) by Erin Hunter

Pandas are the cutest! This is a new exciting series by the author of Warriors…which means there’s even more adventure to come.

Amazon Description:  The pandas of the Bamboo Kingdom have never forgotten the great flood that ended the peaceful life they’d always known. But for three young creatures born that day, the flood marks not an end, but a beginning—the beginning of their struggles to find a place in very different worlds.

Leaf, raised in the sparse Northern Forest, works tirelessly to help her family find bamboo to eat; Rain, hot-tempered, refuses to accept a suspicious new leader in her Southern Forest community; and Ghost, clumsy and uncoordinated, worries he’ll never fit in with his hunter family in the mountains.

None of them know that the others are out there, but thanks to a mysterious tiger that’s been threatening the Kingdom, they will soon find each other—and fulfill a prophecy that had been made long before they were born.

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18.  The Dog’s Meow by Michelle Schusterman

Who says cats and dogs don’t get along? Making this cat part of a pack of huskies may be the best thing that ever happened to them.

Amazon Description:  When 12-year-old Mina discovers an abandoned kitten, Nukka, in the outskirts of Fairbanks, Alaska, she knows she has to take it in. And with the help of Mina’s huskies, Nukka quickly becomes part of the family.

There’s only one problem (or is it?): Nukka is a cat, and with only a pack of huskies to raise her, she develops some…interesting characteristics. Nukka learns to pant like a dog, play fetch like a dog, and even wants to become a sled dog, just like her canine siblings. But they’re so much bigger and stronger than she is. How could Nukka ever keep up?

But things take a turn for the worse when the pack is stranded in a forest during a rescue mission. With a blizzard on its way, will Nukka be able to save her family before it’s too late?

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19.  The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly by Luis Sepulveda

How far would you go to keep a promise?  

Amazon Description:  It’s migration time and as a mother gull dives into the water to catch a herring, she’s caught in an oil slick! Thinking of the egg she is about to lay she manages to extract herself and fly to the nearest port.

Exhausted, she lands on a balcony where Zorba the cat is sunning himself. Zorba wants to get help, but the gull knows it’s too late and she extracts three promises from him: 1) That he won’t eat the egg, 2) that he’ll take care of the chick until it hatches, and 3) that he’ll teach it to fly.

Well, the first two are hard enough, but the third one is surely impossible. Isn’t it?

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20.  The Last Rabbit by Shelley Moore Thomas

These are no ordinary rabbits and their story is as magical as they are.

Off the coast of Ireland, on the island of Hybrasil, lives a Magician and four enchanted rabbit sisters. One by one, the rabbits have been leaving the island, accompanied by a Boy and his boat. When the rabbits leave, they can turn back into girls.

The last rabbit, Albie, remains. She doesn’t want to leave, but the island is sinking. Before deciding where she wants to go, Albie visits each of her sisters. Caragh has joined a circus. Isolde is the captain of a pirate ship. And Rory wants to go home to the family’s house in Cork.

Through many furry twists and hoppity turns, we learn how one mistake can lead to many consequences, and that forgiveness and family are always within reach.

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That’s my list! Do you have a favorite animal book to add? Hop on over to my Instagram account and tell me what it is.