Everyone who knows me, knows that I love animals of all shapes, sizes, and levels of fluffiness. There is something special about seeing the bond between a human and their animal (and, er, dragon?) friend reflected in a story. Here is a list of some of my favorite middle grade animal companions and books that you and your creature-loving kid will want to get your hands on:
by Aaron Reynolds
More than anything in the world, Rex Dexter dreams of having a pet dog—particularly a chocolate Lab—but his parents aren’t sure he’s ready for the responsibility and get him a chicken instead. Unfortunately, his parents were absolutely correct, and the chicken is dead within a few hours of Rex caring for it. (It had a tragic accident involving a steamroller.) Now the extremely talkative chicken has come back from the dead to haunt Rex, as well as a number of suspiciously deceased animals from Middling Falls Zoo. Together, Rex, his BFF Darvish, and their ghostly animal friends have to solve the mystery of what is going on at the zoo.
by Eve Yohalem
Before he passed away, Blue Broen’s grandfather made sure to tell her all about the treasure that was lost many centuries ago aboard the ship that sank after bringing their ancestors to New York. Blue is joined by her trusty, ever-present, giant, diabetic alert dog, Otis, and her new friend Jules, to go on an epic summer treasure-hunting expedition. Ready to prove she is not only defined by her type 1 diabetes, will Blue be able to find the treasure and solve the 300-year family mystery?
by Julie Abe
If Eva Evergreen wants to keep her powers, she needs to earn the title of Novice Witch before she turns 13. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple; Eva only has a little bit of magic, which causes her trouble with even the smallest of witchy tasks. Along with her faithful sidekick and companion, a flamefox called Ember, Eva lands herself in the coastal town of Auteri to set up magical repair shop to help the residents and hopefully prove herself along the way.
by Shauna Holyoak
There are dognappers afoot in Kazu Jones’s Denver neighborhood. Being a fierce dog lover and budding detective, Kazu knows she must do something! Along with a gang of sleuthing friends and her enormous, lovable, but very anxious dog, Genki, they set out to track down the culprits and all the missing dogs.
by Allen Zadoff
When a dog wakes up on a sinking boat with no memory of her past, she runs away and quickly befriends a boy named Chance, who names her Wild. As it turns out, Wild is no ordinary dog—she is a super, genetically-modified dog that can converse with humans through her high-tech collar. Wild, Chance, and their unlikely new companion, a hacker named Junebug, work together to evade the persistent Animal Control officers and uncover Wild’s mysterious past.
by Florence and Richard Atwater
Mr. Popper, a house painter and arctic lover, is sent a male penguin as a gift from a well-respected Admiral. Concerned that he may be lonely, Mr. Popper obtains a female penguin to join to come live with them as well. As you may guess, the two penguins soon become parents, and Mr. Popper and his family have a total of 12 penguins living in their house! If you enjoy Mr. Popper’s Penguins, then you’ll be excited to get your hands on The Popper Penguin Rescue by Eliot Schrefer, the brand new penguin adventure inspired by this classic children’s tale.
Uncle Morton’s dragon
by Josh Lacey; illustrated by Gary Parsons
Eddie’s Uncle Morton has gone on vacation and left Eddie to look after his pet dragon. It didn’t sound like it would be toooo difficult, but soon Eddie realizes that he’s maybe bitten off a bit more than he can chew (or is it the dragon that’s taken the big bites here?). In over his head, Eddie sends Uncle Morton regular emails to share the hilarious daily mischief his pet dragon gets up to. If you enjoy this laugh-out-loud book, there are six more in the series for you to devour!