Hello! Welcome to “Lacey Recommends,” a monthly column updating you on some of the latest and greatest books being published for girls.
One thing we’ve noticed at New Moon Girls is that our members LOVE animals. Whether you want to be a scientist who studies bugs, stand up for animal rights, or simply adore your dog or cat, you’ll find something to remind you of just how special our animal friends are in this month’s selected books about animals.
You know that old saying that a dog is “man’s best friend”? Well, plenty of dogs have been “girls'” best friends, too!
- In Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe, Jack Russel Terrier Fenway tells his story about his favorite human — Hattie. But when Hattie’s family moves, things start to change for the two of them. Suddenly, Hattie is spending more time with new friends than with him. Is what the dogs next door say true? Is Hattie “outgrowing” her best pal?
- Most books about kids and dogs still feature the classic formula of “a boy and his dog.” But today’s books about boys and dogs include girls in the fun, too. In When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin, a stray dog leads foster kid Ben to Halley — who he calls “Rainbow Girl” because of the bright colors she wears. Halley helps him through hard times ahead, such as his mother’s death and the return of Halley’s cancer. In Maxi’s Secrets (or what you can learn from a dog) by Lynn Plourd, a deaf Great Pyrenees dog becomes a boy’s best companion when he moves to a new town. Maxi helps her boy forge a friendship with Abby, too, a blind girl who is there for him when Maxi gets sick.
- Mutt’s Promise by Julie Salamon follows Luna (love the name!) a puppy who ends up at a puppy mill with her brother. Now she must escape and find her way back to the family she loves. If you care about animal rights, this might be the “dog book” for you!
Despite the great books above, I’m still a little disappointed that even the new books coming out are mostly about boys with dogs, and the girls are side characters. What do you think? Do you know of other great “girl and dog” books? Tell me about them in the comments!
If you love “talking animals” books like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, the Warriors series, or the Hamster Princess books, you might like the Mouse Scouts series by Sarah Dillard,featuring best friends Violet and Tigerlily as they have adventures and try to earn their scout badges. The first two books, Mouse Scouts and Make a Difference, are already available, and the third book, Camp Out, is coming soon!
If talking animals making their way in the human world is more your cup of tea, check out Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan, about a baby possum who falls down a chimney and finds herself in a human home. While Appleblossom learns about the family she’s landed with, her brothers launch a rescue mission! (If you like this book, you might also like Possum Summer by Jen K. Blom, about a girl who finds a baby possum and decides to keep it as a pet. The possum in Possum Summer doesn’t talk, though!)
Horses (and a Unicorn!)
Are you a horse lover? Then you’ll want to check out Crazy About Horses: Everything Horse Lovers Need to Know by Molly Kolpin and Donna Bowman Bratton. It’s full of gorgeous color photos of horses, overviews of different breeds, and horse sports like competitions and racing. After you know all about horses, settle in with some paper and a pencil and draw a few. You can get help from The Ultimate Guide to Drawing Horses or Drawing Thoroughbreds and Other Elegant Horses by Rae Young. Both books have step-by-step instructions for drawing horses and riders in a variety of activities and positions.
If you prefer to draw equines of a more magical nature, check out Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson, a comic strip about a nine-year-old girl who skips a rock across a pond and ends up hitting a unicorn. When the unicorn grants her one wish, she wishes for its unending friendship. After reading about Phoebe and the unicorn’s adventures, you can follow the guide for drawing both of them in the back of the book!
- If you prefer to read about animals that you don’t see every day, check out What’s Up in the Amazon Rainforest by Ginger L. Clarke, a book about the largest rainforest in the world, which has more plants and animals than any other habitat! This book is full of stunning images of the rainforest and the many animals that live there, from jaguars to capybaras (the largest rodents in the world!) to the baby, alligator-like caimans that local girls play with as if they were dolls!
- If learning about exotic animals makes you want to protect them, check out Now You See Me: From Endangered to Extinction by Diane Brischke. Now You See Me is full of beautiful photographs of endangered species, such as the Florida panther, the blue whale, and the ring-tailed lemur. Each photo includes one page of information about the animal, including why it is endangered. At the end of the book, you’ll find information about how you can help.
- Visual Explorers: Insects and Spiders is chock-full of gorgeous, full-color, close-up photos of insects — a different look at some tiny creatures
- you may take for granted! In this book, you’ll see a group of ants working together to transport a strawberry, jumping fleas that are barely visible to the naked eye, and a bee taking a long sip of nectar from a flower. (If you like this book, check out the others in the series: Wonders of the World, Rocks, Crystals, and Gems, and Space!)
I’m sad to say that one very important animal companion is missing from this list — cats!! I am a total cat lady and am a little disappointed that I haven’t come across any new books featuring our feline friends. However, you may be able to find some older favorites at your favorite library or bookstore, such as The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin (warning: it’s bit of a tear jerker!), the Warriors series by Erin Hunter, A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass (another tear-jerker!), the Books of Elsewhere series by Jacqueline West, featuring talking cats, or the Anton and Cecil Adventures by Lisa Martin.
What about you? Do you have favorite animal books you want to share? Have you read any of the books on the list? Tell me about it in the comments!
Lacey Louwagie is an adult writer and editor who got her first editing job with New Moon Girls in 2002. She is currently a reporter for a legal news organization, which means she reads a lot of lawsuits! She has also been a teen services librarian and coordinates book-related goodies for New Moon Girls. She is the author of “Rumpled,” a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin for ages 14 and up, and the co-editor of “Hungering & Thirsting for Justice: True Stories from Young Adult Catholics.”