Saturday, November 12, 2016

Top 3 Animal Characters (Laurie)

In our interview with author S.D. Grimm a few weeks ago, she chose to share her top 3 animal characters. I thought it was such a fantastic idea for a Top 3s category that I decided to devote a post of my own to it.

Though I'm fond of animals in real life, I'll admit I don't tend to read a lot of books involving animals. But every once in a while, I read an animal character that is done so well it influences the entire book and stays with me just as much as the human characters.

So, here are the animals that made my top 3, in which you may notice I have a fondness for cats... :)

70697513. Monster from Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

At the beginning of the story, Princess Una and her brother come across a large, golden, blind cat. Una develops an instant affinity for the cat and takes him home with her, naming him Monster. Monster has a huge personality and characteristically feline attitude throughout the book, resulting in high entertainment value. But he also turns out to be much more than what he seems, which makes him a complex, interesting character as the reader learns that Una's encounter with this lovable cat was far from a coincidence.

139292. Gogu from Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

I've already posted about this book in my favorite fairy tale retellings, but I can't help mentioning it again, because Gogu is just fantastic. For the majority of the story, Gogu is the unusual pet frog of Jena, the protagonist. She takes him along everywhere she goes, usually hidden in her pocket, and can read his thoughts. As a result, he is her friend, adviser, and confidante, and they share some great moments - sometimes funny, sometimes touching. But in the end, it turns out Gogu has a secret that impacts their relationship in a huge way - I don't want to spoil it, so you'll just have to read to find out what it is :)

78772391. Taggle from Plain Kate by Erin Bow

This book isn't the kind of thing I usually read, but I found it eerie, fascinating, and beautifully written. Kate, a lonely orphan, makes a deal with a stranger to give him her shadow in return for her heart's wish. He grants her wish not to be alone by giving the power of speech to her cat, Taggle, who turned out to be one of my favorite characters. Taggle not only provided a humorous reprieve from the prevalent darkness in the story, but he also proved a loyal, self-sacrificial friend to Kate. Best of all, his entire personality was just so cat-like. Bow clearly has a true understanding of felines, which made Taggle both memorable and endearing.

Honorable mentions go to Pantalaimon from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series and Manchee from The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, but they didn't quite make the cut, in part because I just talked about both of these series in my last Top 3s post :)

Do you have any favorite animal characters? Do they correspond to animals you enjoy in real life? What makes an animal character memorable for you?

Thanks for reading!


  1. These all sound like interesting books! I've always been curious about Plain Kate, and it sounds really good! I'm intrigued by Wildwood Dancing...

    I read a Snow White retelling called Snow, by Tracy Lynn, several years ago and really enjoyed it. It had characters that were animal-turned-human. I can't remember many details, but they were interesting characters and I loved the book.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Laura! It's funny you posted about Greenglass House just before I posted about Plain Kate, because I think they were both featured in the SCBWI Conference I mentioned in my comment on your post :) Animal-turned-human characters sound very interesting, since usually it's the other way around. I'll have to check that one out!

    2. Oh my gosh, how funny. I remember hearing about Plain Kate there now too! It was the successful first pages session--one of the best sessions I’ve been to! You should give Snow a try, I think you’d like it. It’s been so long, I kind of want to reread it now. :)

  2. I loved Monster from Heartless. I particularly enjoyed reading about him (for he a fairy and just as much a man as a cat) in later Tales of Goldstone books.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Elizabeth! I've read the first and second books in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, but I've been meaning to read the rest at some point. It's good to know Monster makes more appearances :)

  3. I love Monster! His appearances in the Tales of Goldstone Wood are priceless and would definitely say that he is one of my favorite animal characters!

    1. It sounds like Monster is a favorite all around! You have to love a cat with a little attitude :) Thanks for commenting, Laura!


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