Fantastic Friday: Animal Fantasy

I like animal stories as a rule, whether realistic like Jim Kjelgaard's dog stories or humorous like Dick King-Smith's or fantasy like Brian Jacque's Redwall series or The Mistmantle Chronicles by M. I. McAllister or TumTum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn.  I could go on and on.  Obviously I am not the only one who likes these kind of stories, because they keep getting published.  One thing I find interesting and ironic, is the prevalence of  mice as main characters in many of these kind of books (Redwall, TumTum and Nutmeg, Ralph S. Mouse, A Mouse Called Wolf, Bless this Mouse, Mouse Guard, etc.) yet in the real world, few of us are thrilled to see a mouse. The book I'm reviewing today is, of course, about a mouse.  But this book combines both realism and fantasy.

Young Fredle
by Cynthia Voigt
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Fredle is an earnest young fellow suddenly cast out of his cozy home behind the kitchen cabinets—into the outside. It's a new world of color and texture and grass and sky. But with all that comes snakes and rain and lawnmowers and raccoons and a different sort of mouse (field mice, they're called) not entirely trustworthy. Do the dangers outweigh the thrill of discovery? Fredle's quest to get back inside soon becomes a wild adventure of predators and allies, of color and sound, of discovery and nostalgia. And, as Fredle himself will come to understand, of freedom. (

Fredle is a character that readers can connect with as he faces his fears and uncertainties in the outside world.  His growth comes naturally from the situations he faces such as cats, raccoons, gathering his own food, the unfamiliar,  etc.  The other characters add to the story, especially the amusing, but dangerous raccoons.  The writing is superb, as would be expected of an author of a Newbery winner (Dicey's Song) and a Newbery honor (A Solitary Blue). The plot flows naturally and easily. The story is more thoughtful than action packed, which will turn some students off, but for those who persist, the lessons learned are very thought-provoking.  This book would make a good read-a-loud for teachers who wish to encourage students to think about what they are reading.  Recommended for all who love a good animal story.

Some other good animal stories:

Warriors series by Erin Hunter
Seekers series by Erin Hunter
Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel
The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon (has several sequels)
The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley
Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff

Feel free to add other great titles in the comments! Thanks.


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