A wombat’s square droppings. The fact that goldfinches don’t usually eat insects. The uniquely energetic personality of beagles. Animals have so many characteristics that are incredibly fun to learn about at any age. What makes them even more fun? When an author is able to weave this interesting information into a fictional tale told from the animal’s point of view.
Below is a list of outstanding middle grade fiction from authors with animal narrators. They vary from highly realistic to complete fantasy, but they all have one thing in common: they make a great read!
Middle Grade Books from the Animal’s Point of View
Always, Clementine by Carlie Sorosiak
Clementine was raised in a lab where experiments have turned her into a genius mouse. Unexpectedly freed by a sympathetic lab tech, she immediately begins planning how to help the animals left behind, including her chimpanzee friend, Rosie. Luckily, she’s been left at the home of a former chess champion, and a chess-playing mouse can create a sensation! Written as letters to Rosie, this story from an animal’s point of view will warm your heart.
Bravelands: Broken Pride by Erin Hunter
In this tale of leadership and belonging, lion cub Fearless is taken in by a troop of baboons after his father–the leader of the pride–is killed. But not all the baboons welcome him, and when their leader is killed too, Fearless must move on once again. As leaders are toppled left and right, the creatures of the Bravelands are shaken to their core. Will Fearless find his family and a true home ever again? Told from multiple animal narrative perspectives, Broken Pride will make readers crave more of the Bravelands series.
Braver by Suzanne Selfors and Walker Ranson
Lola just doesn’t fit in with the other wombats. She’s too talkative and curious! But when her parents are kidnapped by Tassie devils, her outgoing personality and stubborn refusal to give up make her the perfect critter to save the day. Perfect for fans of Redwall, Braver is a hero’s tale that stands tall among the best of them, written from the point of view of Lola, the wombat.
Duet written by Elise Broach, illustrated by Ziyue Chen
Mirabelle is a goldfinch who is bursting with music. Michael is a talented, uncertain boy who is preparing for a piano competition. When they discover they can play together, magic happens. Mystery happens, too–a missing piano once owned by Chopin himself that may be hidden deep in the home of the piano teacher’s sister. Chock full of historical references, this enchanting story is a look at music, giftedness, and the ways we need each other to make life joyful.
The One and Only Ruby written by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao
Ruby the elephant, first seen in The One and Only Ivan, is growing up. Living with the herd in an animal sanctuary, she is supposed to be preparing for her Tuskday. But she hates her tusks and doesn’t want to celebrate growing up! Only by looking deep into her past will Ruby understand what she needs to move into her future. This coming-of-age story is a win for any reader, but particularly for those who have been following the tales of Ivan and his animal friends.
Toby’s Story: A Puppy Tale by W. Bruce Cameron
The last of his litter to be adopted, Toby is a quiet, calm puppy–perfect for the nursing home where he’s meant to live. But when his humans treat the gluten allergy that’s been making him hurt, Toby goes from a patient pup to a wild thing! Can he still find his purpose as a therapy dog for the elderly? Toby’s Story is written with a realism that will please non-fiction lovers as well as those looking for a dog’s eye view.
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Joey starts life as a farm horse, but when Britain enters World War I he is sold into cavalry service. Thus begins his long journey from battlefield to farm to battlefield again, crossing borders, working endlessly, and always hoping to find his way peacefully home. Solidly for the upper end of the middle grades, this book presents a clear look at the horrors of war and the power of kindness in a classic Morpurgo style.
The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney
In this first book of the much-loved Humphrey series, we meet the hamster hero and the students of Room 26. Each chapter follows Humphrey on a new adventure–usually one where he finds a way to change a human’s life for the better. These books are simply a great series for younger readers to fall in love with–and with a new title due in the Spring of 2024, it looks like our narrator, Humphrey, will be around for a long time to come.