The best animal stories to tug your heartstrings

Who am I?

My first animal story, Lost in the Snow, was based on stories that my mum and I invented together when I was very small, about our stray cat Rosie. She walked into my dad’s office and sat down in his chair when he was out at lunch! I loved imagining her adventures as a stray kitten, and those stories could be scary, sad, emotional as anything – because we knew she came home to live safe and happy with us. I’ve been creating stories about animals ever since. 


I wrote...

The Story Puppy

By Holly Webb, Sophy Williams (illustrator),

Book cover of The Story Puppy

What is my book about?

Jack is having a hard time at school, as he’s struggling with his reading. No one seems to understand how he feels – until he visits the animal shelter where his sister Mattie works and meets Daisy, a tiny white puppy who’s been abandoned by the roadside. Daisy is terrified of people, but she’s desperate to be loved too. When Jack practices his reading sitting by her pen, a bond begins to grow between them.

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The books I picked & why

The Midnight Fox

By Betsy Cromer Byars,

Book cover of The Midnight Fox

Why did I love this book?

I loved Betsy Byars’s books growing up. Being English, these American childhoods were so fascinatingly different! The Midnight Fox is a funny, bittersweet story of city boy Tom falling in love with the wildlife of the forest – and most of all with the beautiful midnight fox and her cub. But by making them more familiar with humans, he ends up attracting them closer to the farm and putting them in danger – it’s such a heartbreaking, beautiful book.

By Betsy Cromer Byars,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Midnight Fox as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Midnight Fox is an atmospheric and heartfelt story, and one of Betsy Byars' best-loved classics.

And then, this afternoon,' Uncle Fred said to me, 'you and I'll go after the fox.'

Tom, a town boy, is horrified when his parents tell him he has to stay on Aunt Millie's farm while they are away. He finds country life every bit as strange and uncomfortable as he feared. But soon, he discovers a rare black fox with green eyes, living with her cubs in the forest. Suddenly, the summer is full of excitement. That is, until Uncle Fred decides to…


Pax

By Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (illustrator),

Book cover of Pax

Why did I love this book?

Another fox book! Such a wonderful story of love between a boy and a wild creature. Pax’s relationship with the rest of the foxes is so brilliantly told – he longs to belong with them, but he’s still so closely woven with Peter, his boy. The strange, jarring background of war adds so much tension to this story too – no one can be safe. Utterly gripping.

By Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Pax as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The moving story of the extraordinary friendship between a boy and his fox and their epic journey to be reunited. Beautifully illustrated by multi-award winner, Jon Klassen. Now available in Paperback!

Pax was only a kit when his family was killed and he was rescued by 'his boy', Peter. Now the country is at war and when his father enlists, Peter has no choice but to move in with his grandfather. Far worse than leaving home is the fact that he has to leave Pax behind. But before Peter spends even one night under his grandfather's roof he sneaks out…


The Book Cat

By Polly Faber, Clara Vulliamy (illustrator),

Book cover of The Book Cat

Why did I love this book?

This gorgeously illustrated book is the story of Morgan, who becomes the Book Cat at the real publisher Faber. I adored TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats as a child, and Morgan was a real cat who was one of the inspirations for the poems. These are his adventures during the London Blitz – in some ways a familiar story, but so moving from a cat’s point of view! 

By Polly Faber, Clara Vulliamy (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Book Cat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a classic wartime tale of a (real!) cat who made his home at the Faber offices and decided he'd never leave.

'This time we need to get you - get all of the kittens, safe out of London,' said Morgan decisively . . . 'To have a chance for a better life, well, let's just say, I've got an idea.'

Morgan is a young orphan who lives off scavenging - until he finds a cosy home at a famous London publishing house. Over time he learns a trade - and soon becomes the very best book cat in…


Owl Babies

By Martin Waddell, Patrick Benson (illustrator),

Book cover of Owl Babies

Why did I love this book?

I read this to my children over and over, and I still adore it – which is probably the best thing a parent can say about a picture book! There’s something so clever and magical here, the little owls’ worry about their missing mother builds the tension even when you’re reading it for the fifth time in a day. And of course, she always does come back!

By Martin Waddell, Patrick Benson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Owl Babies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A special 25th anniversary edition of a modern classic, Owl Babies reassures young children that Mummy will always come home.

"The perfect picture book" Guardian

A special 25th anniversary board book edition of a bestselling modern classic, Owl Babies is a comforting read for any toddler who has ever worried about mum leaving them alone, or any child starting pre-school for the very first time. Sarah, Percy and Bill the baby owls wake one night to find their mother gone. And as the darkness gathers and they perch patiently on their branch waiting for her return, oh how they worry!…


Tarka the Otter

By Henry Williamson, Charles Tunnicliffe (illustrator),

Book cover of Tarka the Otter

Why did I love this book?

I have been working on a book about otters for the last couple of years, and I returned to this classic remembering how much I’d both loved and hated it as a child. I loved the wonderful first-person descriptions of Tarka’s water life, and his joy exploring the river – and I was devastated by the terrifying scenes of the otter hunt. An amazing book, but definitely one to share with your children, to talk about our effect on animals and the natural world.

By Henry Williamson, Charles Tunnicliffe (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Tarka the Otter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Twilight over meadow and water, the eve-star shining above the hill, and Old Nog the heron crying kra-a-ark! as his slow dark wings carried him down to the estuary."

A beautiful hardback gift edition of one of the most famous animal stories in children's literature. TARKA THE OTTER is the classic story of an otter living in the Devonshire countryside which captures the feel of life in the wild as seen through the otter's own eyes. The story's atmosphere and detail make it easy to see why Tarka has become one of the best-loved creatures in world literature.

Henry William…


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