A-Z List of Animals

Titles with a whale next to them are books I particularly enjoyed and feel they treat animals with respect and compassion.


Morpurgo, Michael. The Dancing Bear. Illustrated by Christian Birmingham, London, HarperCollins, 1994.
Novella. Roxanne finds a bear cub who draws attention from a film crew who want to use him as a dancing bear in their music video. When Roxanne sings the bear dances but has an untimely death in his cage when Roxanne decides to leave the village. 

Thebo, Mimi. Dreaming the Bear. Oxford, Oxford UP, 2016.
YA Fiction. Cold and exhausted a girl seeks refuge in a cave only to find an injured grizzly bear. Realising that its only hope for survival is for her to feed it unfortunately brings the truth that a wild animal cannot be tamed.

Birds of Prey

Hines, Barry. A Kestrel for a Knave. London, Penguin Books, 2016.
YA Fiction. Fifteen year old Billy Casper trains a kestrel but his patience and love of the bird is overshadowed by trouble in school and at home.

Blood Sports/Hunting

Dahl, Roald. Danny the Champion of the World. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, London, Puffin, 2016.
Danny has a wonderful relationship with his dad and he is shocked to find that he is a poacher. Danny joins him as he poaches pheasants from rich land owner Mr Victor Hazell.

—. The Magic Finger. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, London, Puffin, 2013.
Novella. If you had a ‘magic finger’ that could turn a duck hunter into a duck would you use it? 


De Lisle, Sandy. Hens for Friends. Illustrated by Amelia Hansen, Edina, Gryphon, 2015.
Picture book. A boy adopts some chickens and discover that his favourite, Margaret has some very endearing habits.

Fine, Anne. The Chicken Gave it to Me. London, Egmont, 1992.
Chapter book. Finding a book written by a chicken explaining her journey from factory hen to alien planet is one thing but delivering the news that the aliens love human meat is another. Will her story be believed?


Morpurgo, Michael. Mr Nobody’s Eyes. London, Egmont, 2006.
Chapter book. Unhappy about his mother’s new marriage Harry runaways from home taking Ocky the circus chimpanzee with him. Ocky is proves difficult to care for and Harry returns her to Mr Nobody the circus clown.

Oppel, Kenneth. Half Brother. New York, Scholastic Press, 2012.
YA Fiction. Ben’s parents are psychologists who bring a baby chimpanzee home to see if they can teach him sign language. As Ben begins to love and treat the chimp, Zan, like a brother a terrible decision has to be made when his parents lose their project funding and Zan needs to find a new place to live. Who will take a baby chimp and what will they do with him?

The Circus

Burningham, John. Cannonball Simp. Cambridge, Candlewick Press, 1994.
Picture book. Simp, an abandoned dog, finds a home with a clown. Simp performs in the circus, riding on the back of a horse and being shot out of the canon. Illustrations show a lion in a small, travelling cage, a sea lion balancing on a ball and a monkey, lion and elephant wearing party hats and having tea with the ringmaster.

Cope, Andrew. Circus Act. Illustrated by James De la Rue, London, Puffin, 2010.
Easy chapter book. The circus pups go undercover in the circus. There are references to the cruelty of keeping animals in the circus as the children discuss what type of circus they are going to see.

Ernst, Lisa Campbell. Ginger Jumps. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1996.
Picture book. Ginger, a dog born into the circus, learns to perform some tricks. Dreaming of belonging to a little girl, Ginger jumps off the highest platform into the arms of a clown. Illustrations of sea lions, performing elephants, lions and tigers on leads, performing horses and of course, lots of performing dogs.

Harrold, A. F. The Boy Who Cried Fish. Illustrated by Sarah Horne, London, Bloomsbury, 2014.
Chapter book. Fizzlebert is a boy whose parents work in a travelling circus. Fizz’s act is to put his head into the lion’s mouth. The sea lion, Fish, runs away because the Cook threw a ladle at him and it hit him on the head. There are illustrations of the lions in a small cage on wheels. When Charles the lion is ‘retired’ his cage is used for a performing crocodile.

—. Fizzlebert Stump and the Bearded Boy. Illustrated by Sarah Horne, London, Bloomsbury Children’s, 2013.
Chapter book. The circus lion loses his false teeth, a confused sea lion becomes an object of fun and the circus inspectors poison the magicians rabbit so they can see how the circus runs ‘in the most unpromising of conditions‘.

—. Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library). Illustrated by Sarah Horne, London, Bloomsbury Children’s, 2012.
Chapter book. Fizzlebert is a boy whose parents work in a travelling circus. Fizzlebert’s act is to put his head in the lions mouth. The lion is old and has false teeth. Another act is Fish, the sea lion.

Jordan, Denise. Circus Clowns. Chicago, Heinemann Library, 2002.
Simple non-fiction. Content: What Animals Help Clowns? Shows pictures of clowns performing with a dog and cat.

–. Circus Performers. Chicago, Heinemann Library, 2002.
Simple non-fiction. Contents: What Do Riders Do? Pictures of circus performers standing on and leaping onto horses.

–. Welcome to the Circus! Chicago, Heinemann Library, 2002.
Simple non-fiction.The cover has pictures of three elephants standing on the rear legs. Content includes: What Do Circus Animals Do? and has photographs of a tiger being challenged to stand up by a trainer, seven poodles standing in a line on their hind legs and an elephant wearing a top hat whilst the trainer with a bullhook stands by.

Machotka, Hana. The Magic Ring: A Year with the Big Apple Circus. New York, Morrow, 1988.
Non-fiction. Describes how elephants are trained by ‘stretching out’ as the trainer establishes himself as the leader.

Morpurgo, Michael. Mr Nobody’s Eyes. London, Egmont, 2006.
Chapter book. Unhappy about his mother’s new marriage Harry runaways from home taking Ocky the circus chimpanzee with him. Ocky is proves difficult to care for and Harry returns her to Mr Nobody the circus clown.

Smith, Alex T. Claude at the Circus. London, Hodder Children’s Book, 2012.
Simple chapter book. With only a passing reference to a lion escaping from a zoo, Claude the dog visits a circus where only humans perform until he starts ‘to help’.

Wildsmith, Brian. The Circus. London, OUP, 1970.
Picture book. Dreamlike illustrations of animals performing in the circus. 

Wilson, Jacqueline. Hetty Feather. Illustrated by Nick Sharratt, London, Corgi Yearling, 2010. 
Chapter book. Growing up in Victorian times, Hetty is beguiled by the glamour of the circus until one day when she finally sees it for what it really is – no place for girls or animals.

Wiseman, Bernard. Morris and Boris at the Circus. New York, HarperCollins, 1988.
Easy reader. Cartoonish illustrations of lions and tigers in small, travelling cages, dogs performing handstands, sea lions blowing horns, and elephants bowing down onto their front legs.


Leaman, Louisa, and Virginia McKenna. Elephant Rescue: A True Story. London, Orion Children’s Books, 2016.
Non-Fiction. This is the retelling of two elephant rescues by the BornFree Foundation: orphaned Nina kept in captivity, alone, for 27 years and Pinkie a baby elephant who was rescued from a quarry.

Dicamillo, Kate. The Magician’s Elephant. Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, London, Walker Books, 2015.
Chapter Book. What is the link between an elephant conjured out of thin air, an orphan and a missing sister? Could releasing the elephant be the key to a new, happy life for Peter the orphan?


Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Ivan. London, HarperCollins, 2012.

Browne, Anthony. Gorilla. London, Julia MacRae, 1989.

—. King Kong. London, Picture Corgi, 2005.

—. Little Beauty. London, Walker, 2008.

—. One Gorilla: A Counting Book. London, Walker, 2012.

—. Willy and Hugh. London, Picture Corgi, 2008.

—. Zoo. Red Fox, 1994.

Lewis, Gill. Gorilla Dawn. Oxford, OUP.


Carter, Anne. Out of the Deeps. Illustrated by Nicolas Debon, Victoria, Orca Book Publishers, 2011.
Picture book. Based on a true story, 12 year old Savino begins work  in ‘the deeps’, a Canadian coal mine. When Savino’s safety lamp goes out it is his trusted pit pony Nelson who leads him out of the mine.

Havill, Juanita. Call the Horse Lucky. Illustrated by Nancy Lane, Edina, Gryphon, 2010.
A young girl finds an abandoned, starving horse and her grandmother calls the Humane Society. When Mel visits him in his new home she learns all about his rehabilitation and the amount of care a horse needs.


Lean, Sarah. The Riverbank Otter. Illustrated by Anna Currey, London, HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2018.


Benjamin, Ali. The Thing about Jellyfish. London, MacMillan, 2015.


Peck, Robert Newton. A Day No Pigs Would Die. New York, Random House, 1994.
YA Fiction. Semi-autobiographical this book is dedicated to Peck’s father who was ‘a quiet and gentle man whose work was killing pigs’. Robert is gifted a pig and grows to love her but when she is found to be barren and the family fall on hard times there is a difficult time ahead. Brilliant coming-of-age, short novel.


Davey, Owen. Smart about Sharks. London, Flying Eye Books, 2016.

Hibbert, Clare. If You Were a Shark. London, Franklin Watts, 2013.


Davies, Nicola. Whale Boy. Random House, 2013.

Howell, Troy, and Richard Jones. Whale in a Fishbowl. New York, Schwartz & Wade Books, 2018.
Picture book. A whale kept in a tiny aquarium longs to be in the sea.

Ihimaera, Witi. The Whale Rider. Essex, Heinemann, 2005.

James, Simon. Dear Greenpeace. London, Walker, 1992.
James, Simon. Dear Mr Blueberry
. New York, Aladdin, 1996.
Picture book. Try to get the UK version if you can as the little girl in the story writes letters to Greenpeace asking for information about the whale in her pond. The US version is almost the same but the little girl writes to her teacher, Mr Blueberry. You can teach more with the UK version and inquire about organisations that advocate for animal welfare.

James, Simon. My Friend Whale. London, Walker, 2003.
Picture book. A little boy swims with his friend Whale every night. He tells us lots of facts about his blue whale friend but one night Whale does not return. What has happened to Whale? Includes information about why whales are hunted and links to organisations that help protect whales.

Morpurgo, Michael. This Morning I Met a Whale. Illustrated by Christian Birmingham, London, Walker, 2009.
Novella. A fictionalised version of the bottle-nosed whale who became trapped in the Thames River. Michael hears the whale warning and promises he will act.

Morpurgo, Michael. Why the Whales Came. London, Egmont, 2011.
Gracie has always been told to stay away from the Birdman who is believed to curse people but when they do finally meet the Birdman explains it is not he who brought a curse to the island but rather the villagers who slaughter beached narwals for their horns and meat. When a narwal is beached will the villagers rescue it and lift the curse?

Stilton, Geronimo, et al. Save the White Whale! New York, Scholastic, 2011.
Chapter Book. #45 in the Geronimo Stilton series. Geronimo needs a holiday but the Bay of Whales is not lack it used to be. It is dirty and polluted and Geronimo is having a terrible vacation until he finds a beached whale. As well as a fun story the book includes facts and games about whales.

Thomson, Kerr. The Sound of Whales. Somerset, Chicken House, 2015.

Wilson, Jacqueline. The Longest Whale Song. Illustrated by Nick Sharratt, London, Corgi Yearling, 2016.
Chapter book. Ella is finding out lots of whale facts for her school project but could one fact, the song of the humpback whale, be the key to awakening her mum from a coma?


Gray, Kes. Daisy and the Trouble with Zoos. Illustrated by Garry Parsons, London, Red Fox, 2008.
Chapter book. For her 7th birthday, Daisy is treated to a day at the zoo where she finds bored lions and a ‘zoo adoption’ scheme that doesn’t quite work like she expected.

Hartnett, Sonya. The Midnight Zoo. Illustrated by Jonathan McNaughtt,  London, Walker, 2011.
Chapter book (upper primary/middle school). Two brothers escape a Nazi attack on their Roma family and find an abandoned zoo on the edge of a bombed village. The animals tell them their stories as the boys try to keep themselves, their baby sister and the animals alive.

W is for Whale

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