Animals in fiction… and non-fiction

There are so many book animals it’s difficult to know where to start. Black Beauty is one of the first I can remember reading about; I was about nine and going through a ‘horses are everything’ stage. Unfortunately  there weren’t many pony clubs in Glasgow back then so I had to make do with the odd trot along the beach on a seaside pony at Ayr, where we often went on holiday. It was a very emotional time for me; I remember making a Black Beauty scrapbook and howling over it in the garden, which I was convinced was large enough to house a pony…

indexJames Herriot of course perfected the art of animal-writing. His have got to be the funniest animal stories around, and the joy is there’s so many of them. I think people find them funny because they strike a chord with most animal-owners – who hasn’t stood in the vet’s consulting room feeling like a complete idiot? I remember taking Siegfriede, one of our supposedly female guinea pigs, when she suddenly produced four offspring – and then the vet gently informed me that I should have brought Solomon, our definitely male guinea pig… But that’s beside the point. If anyone has missed any of the James Herriot books do treat yourself asap, I promise you’ll feel much better after reading just a few chapters.

Gerald Durrell is another not to be missed animal writer – his books are informative and amusing too. Usually it’s his wacky family who provide the humour in between more serious animal sections.

Back to fiction and we have Lassie, tho’ I’m sure more people remember her from TV and not the books. And Flicka, another book-turned-TV star. Watership Down, which was filmed with beautiful music by Art Garfunkel. White Fang. All the Beatrice Potter stories. Stuart Little. Animal books are for all ages.

Moving from the sublime to whatever, my own favourite, Maroni, the inspiration for Conker the Newfoundlander in my book (The Paradise Trees). I included him solely to provide a little light relief amidst the gloom and doom – there’s no actual humour attached to him, but the positive vibes are there. He does get dog-napped in chapter seventeen but that’s fortunately a relatively brief interlude (for him…) Otherwise, he spends his time bumbling about the pages havin’ a good time. Which is more than can be said for some of the others in the story…

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Other book animals – or animal books?  Ring of Bright Water. The Wind in the Willows. Rikki Tikki Tavi and his mates. Babe. The Three Little Pigs et al. Animal Farm. The Incredible Journey. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe etc. And let’s not forget Bambi.

There must be dozens more. Have I forgotten anyone important? My own personal real-life important animal is of course our dear departed Shiva… but that’s another storyShiva


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2 Responses to Animals in fiction… and non-fiction

  1. Durkje says:

    You’ve “forgotten” Garfield, my favorite animal. He’s just a cartoon? Well, lets not be fussy.
    He’s got humour all right and he is a great meditation goeruh. Just what the busy world needs at the moment.


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