“Charlotte’s Web,” the beloved book by E. B. White, has captivated generations of children with the unlikely friendship between a sassy barn spider and a humble radiant pig.
To the very end, this magnificent duo would do anything for one another: turn webs into linguistic miracles, chase off grumpy rats with rotten cheese, raise orphaned babies with the same kindness and charisma exhibited by their mother. It was a friendship like no other.
Although “Charlotte’s Web” is forever in a league of its own, the literary world is filled with books about fanciful, unexpected, and terrific animal alliances. Here are eight that your child will love:
by Catherine Thimmesh
In this beautiful preschool book, author Catherine Thimmesh makes us smile with these highly unlikely animal friendships. From a polar bear that befriends a sled dog to an ostrich who connects with a giraffe, in the animal world, boundaries are often broken and unusual relationships form.
by Claudia Boldt
Peanut is an odd dog who worries about his next-door neighbor, Milo. When Peanut notices an apple growing over the fence into Milo’s yard, he becomes frantic. Surely, no dog can be trusted. And surely the dog on the wrong side of the tree will eat his delicious fruit. Peanut is quick to judge his neighbor. But what his neighbor does next sparks the beginning of a truly great friendship.
“The real treat is observing neurotic, slit-eyed Peanut and oblivious, wide-eyed Milo, both of whom are completely huggable,” says “Booklist.”
by Randy Cecil
“Horsefly and Honeybee” is a simple story about two insects who learn to share and work together. When Honeybee tries to take a nap in the same flower as Horsefly, a slight scrimmage ensues and, unfortunately, they both lose a wing! No longer able to fly, they are forced to walk everywhere…even by a hungry frog who wants to eat them for dinner. Working together, they learn they can fly once again and escape the green monster.
“This book speaks directly to kids in a language they understand, and when you combine that with illustrations that are simple, colorful, and incredibly endearing, you get a book that is sure to become a favorite for any preschooler or toddler,” says one Amazon reviewer.
by Patrick Jennings
Creative collaboration describes the friendship between Bat and Rat, two nocturnal animals living in the big city. Bat lives in the attic of Hotel Midnight, while Rat lives all the way down in the basement. Although it seems unlikely that they could ever be friends, they spend their days together doing all sorts of wonderful things: dumpster diving, riding the subway, and playing in a band.
They agree on everything until they get ice cream one warm afternoon. Which is better: Mosquito Ripple or Butter Beetle Pecan? Can their friendship survive this sticky test?
by William Steig
Amos the mouse and Boris the whale are devoted friends with absolutely nothing in common, except their generosity and willingness to help a fellow animal. They meet when Amos’s boat goes adrift at sea. In need of rescue, Boris arrives to save the day. Not long after, it’s Amos in need of rescuing. Can a little mouse help his gigantic friend?
“A simple, matter-of-fact story about the friendship between a mouse and a whale. Lovely watercolor pictures and a funny, well-written text which presents its plot coincidences in tongue-in-cheek manner fit together admirably in this faintly Aesopian tale,” says “School Library Journal.”
by George Selden
Chester Cricket finds himself smack dab in the middle of the Times Square subway station. Rather than fret, he makes himself cozy in a nearby newsstand. Not long after, he makes three new friends: Tucker, the fast-talking Broadway mouse, Mario, the little boy whose parents own the newsstand, and Harry the Cat, Tucker’s unorthodox sidekick. Together, the escapades in New York City never end!
by Katherine Applegate
Winner of the Newbery Medal and a “New York Times” bestseller, “The One and Only Ivan” is a powerful narrative about unexpected friendships. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan and told from his vantage point, the book takes readers inside his 27 years in captivity at a shopping mall. He never thinks about home back in the wild, until he meets a baby elephant named Ruby. They instantly bond, and through Ruby’s eyes, Ivan sees his home again.
“Katherine Applegate’s beautiful, life-affirming story will soar directly from Ivan’s heart into your own. Read it out loud. Read it alone. Read it,” says Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor author of “The Underneath.”
by Kathi Appelt
A chapter book of unimaginable surprise, “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp” tells the story of Bingo and J’miah, raccoon brothers on a mission to save Sugar Man Swamp. Together, they’ll have to defeat a gang of wild feral hogs and world-class alligator wrestler, Jaeger Stitch, to save the home they love. The familial bond transcends to best friends forever in this delightful children’s book.
Which books about animal friendships would you add to the list? Share in the comments below.