Tuesday, December 10, 2019

12 Days of Giving: Books for Animal Lovers

Kids looooove animals. If you're not sure what to buy for a young child, an animal book is a pretty darn safe bet. Lots of older kids love learning about and reading about animals, too. So today, I'm giving you suggestions for the animal lovers in your life.

For babies and toddlers:

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (Little Simon). When a child writes to the zoo to please send a pet, all kinds of different animals show up in the mail. Are any of them good for pets? This lift the flap board book is fun because it has humor and interaction built right in.

Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton (Workman, 2008). Sandra Boynton is a master for young children, of course, and this one is one of my favorites. A little boy names all his pets... they're all named Bob... except for a surprise turtle at the end. This sturdy board book is a great choice to all to a young child's Boynton collection.

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle (Harper, 1997). Available in either board book format or paperback, this book by beloved author Eric Carle is a good choice for young kids since every spread pairs an action with an animal.

Heads by Matthew Van Fleet (Simon & Schuster, 2010). This was one of the first books I gave my formerly youngest niece when I first started dating my husband. She was two at the time and got great joy out of pulling the tabs and making the animals in the book move. It's a sturdy board book with different textures to feel and tabs to make parts of the book move, going through all different kinds of animals.

For preschoolers and early elementary: 

Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett (Atheneum, 1970). Oh the giggles with this one! It turns out there are all kinds of reasons that animals should NOT wear clothing. A snake would lose it, a goat would eat it, it would always be wet on a walrus. The hilarious pictures depicting wacky scenarios of animals wearing clothes will definitely have kids laughing. And bonus, there are several other picture books about animals from this team, so bundle up a few of the paperbacks and you have a nice gift.

Bark George by Jules Feiffer (HarperCollins, 1999). Okay, this book is not everyone's cup of tea, but I happen to love it. When young George starts saying other animal noises instead of barking, his mother takes him to the vet who puts on his latex gloves and pulls out... a cat! And so on. I have had major storytime success with this one with ages 2 to about 7, so I think it's definitely a crowd-pleaser. It's a good bet for kids who like funny books that are a little offbeat. 

I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry (Dial, 2007). This giant squid certainly likes to brag about being the biggest thing in the ocean... but is he? If you have young marine biologists who teethed on Baby Shark and are still fascinated by ocean animals, this funny book with large colorful pictures is a great choice. 

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead (Roaring Brook, 2010). This Caldecott Medal winning picture book is a sweet story about zookeeper Amos McGee who stays home from work with a cold. Worried about him, his animal friends come to see him and cheer him up while he is sick. 

Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks by Skila Brown, illustrated by Bob Kolar (Candlewick, 2016). This collection of poems features all different kinds of poems about all different kinds of sharks. This is another one that's perfect for your young marine biologists and sharks are always a hit. 

Chapter book readers:

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel (Roaring Brook, 2008). This highly illustrated early chapter book series is seriously funny and super popular. Scoop up a handful of them and bundle together for a nice gift. 

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold, illustrated by Charles Santoso (Walden Pond Press, 2017). Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat) has some trouble making friends, but he has always related to animals. When his vet mom brings home a baby skunk that's been abandoned, Bat falls in love and yearns to help take care of the skunk. He is super hoping that his mom will let them keep it, even though he knows that skunks are wild animals. Bat loves animals so, so much and young animal lovers, especially those who have longed for a pet, will relate. Bonus for gift giving: there are two more books about Bat. Bundle them up for your big book lovers. 

The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson (Henry Holt, 2016). This super cute and funny graphic novel features a trio of class pets determined to break out of school and regain their freedom... until the 4th and 5th grade pets come up with a dastardly plan to prank the students. There are tons of cute and funny details in the pictures that kids will enjoy looking for. This is an early chapter book graphic novel, perfect for the younger elementary set, though older kids may well enjoy it as a quick read.

The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney (Puffin, 2004). This is a really sweet, cute, funny story narrated by a hamster who lives in a classroom and loves to help take care of the humans there. Humphrey has a lot of heart and a great voice. This is a great choice for anyone who loves animals or has ever wanted a pet. And it's also a series, so feel free to pick up a couple of them for the animal lover in your life. 

Middle grade readers:

Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing, and Rescue by Peg Kehret (Dutton, 2012). Author Peg Kehret loves animals. I mean she loooves them! Enough that she and her husband built a cabin in the woods to be surrounded by nature and after her husband passed away, Peg turned his workshop into a "cat room" as she fostered abandoned animals. This true story will appeal to kids whose dream is to live surrounded by animals. 

Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord (Scholastic, 2019). Formerly homeschooled Emma is nervous and excited to start fifth grade at public school, but making friends and learning the school rules is harder than she thought. Each day, Emma longs to get home to the newest addition to her family: a pet rabbit that she and her game warden dad rescued and that Emma has named Monsieur Lapin in honor of the forest stories her Pepere used to tell her. Emma wants to keep Lapi, but what if he has an owner? This is a story with a lot of heart and it's perfect for young pet owners or kids who wish they could be pet owners. 

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (Yearling, 2002). When Roy moves to Florida, he's not exactly thrilled about it, especially when he has to face bullies at his new school. But when he spots a boy running alongside the road, he senses a mystery, and when he investigates he finds himself caught up in an eco adventure he never could have imagined. This is a great choice for kids who like mystery stories and kids who are interested in saving the environment. 

Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins (Charlesbridge, 2015). Neel loves his home in an island village in India. He loves his mother’s cooking. He loves swimming in the nearby ponds. And he loves the tigers that live on the preserve on a neighboring island, the only place where wild Bengal tigers still live. So when a tiger cub turns up missing, Neel wants to help. And he'll do anything to get out of studying for his school exams - he's not even sure he wants to go away to school far from his family. This is an adventure-filled story that's great for kids who love wild animals and who look for ways to care for animals and the environment.