Posts tagged animal stories

Michael Morpurgo Month – Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

November 2013 sees a month-long celebration of Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful stories, marking his 70th birthday this year.  We’re celebrating by highlighting some of our favourite Michael Morpurgo stories, including Shadow.

Life in Afghanistan is terrifying for Aman and his family and they want nothing more than to escape.  When a Springer Spaniel appears in the mouth of their cave, Aman nurses the dog back to health.  The dog is like a “friendly shadow” that stays with Aman and his family and so he decides to call her Shadow.  When life becomes more dangerous, Aman and his mother leave their home and escape, with Shadow leading the way.

One of the things I like about Michael Morpurgo’s books is that you often get two stories in one.  In Shadow you get the story of Aman and Shadow, but also the story of Matt and his grandfather who fight to free Aman from the refugee detention centre in England.  There are sad things that happen in the story but there are also plenty of good things that happen, like Aman finding Shadow.

This is the perfect book for anyone who likes animal stories, survival stories, and stories about people from other cultures.    Recommended for 9+         10 out of 10

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Guest Author: Amy Brown, author of the Pony Tales series

The first pony I rode was called Johnny.  The size of a St Bernard dog, and brownish black, Johnny was a Timor pony, who belonged, I think, to a family that lived a few baches down from ours. I don’t remember exactly, because I was four years old at the time. This memory comes mostly from a photo of myself in a sundress, sitting on Johnny’s back, my jandals dangling next to his sides as Dad leads him along Ocean Beach[1].  I do remember being enchanted by Johnny’s kind, dark eyes with the sun-bleached lashes, and his sweet, horsy smell.

This, Mum tells me, was the beginning of the obsession.  Dad bought himself a dapple-grey gelding called Poncho.  He kept his horse at Mahara Riding School, run by a man called Mr Green. Mr Green ate molasses (a black syrup) on bread and slept in the tack room.  He lived with his horses and knew, I thought, everything about them.  Soon, Dad wanted to go to shows, sports days and one-day events.  He needed a horse float and a vehicle heavy enough to tow a horse float. Edward, our yellow sedan, would not do.

When a farmer called Mr White advertised a horse float and Ford Falcon in the Classifieds section of the newspaper, my father called him.  At the inspection, we decided the car should be named The Shark, as it was great and white.  Before we left, Mr White asked my father, ‘Would your daughter like a pony, to go with the float?’ Dad looked at me. It had been agreed that I would not have a pony of my own until I was at least eight. I was five. But, a little bay gelding called Twinks was being offered for free! He was sixteen years old and needed a retirement home, so we took him to Mahara Riding School to live with Poncho and Mr Green’s many horses.

Like Jade, the heroine of Pony Tales, I acquired my first pony unexpectedly. The only other things I have in common with Jade are being an only child and loving pony books, especially old English ones like Jill’s Gymkhana, National Velvet and Pony Club Cup.  As a ten-year-old I read a range of books; I enjoyed Roald Dahl, Margaret Mahy, Maurice Gee and Jack Lasenby.  But, when I’d had my tonsils out and needed comfort, I reached for an old favourite with a horse on the cover.  I wrote four books about Jade’s adventures with her ponies Pip and Taniwha because when I was younger this was the kind of book I most enjoyed reading.

We have all of Amy’s Pony Tales books in the library, including Jade at the Champs, Jade and the Hunters and her latest book, Jade’s Summer of Horses.

[1] Ocean Beach is the setting of Jade’s Summer of Horses, the latest book in the Pony Tales series.

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Is the Animal Story a Dead Duck?

I’ve always been told not to write animal stories, that no-one reads them any more. Unless it’s a picture book. But as a reader, I love animal story novels – stories in which animals are the main characters and are given human characteristics such as speech. Any humans are the minor characters! Two of my favourite series of books are about wolves (The Wolves of Time by William Horwood) and moles (Duncton Wood also by William Horwood). My all-time favourite book is about a mouse, The Tale of Despereaux. Apparently the movie was awful but the book is great.

I also enjoyed the Redwall series (more mice), Watership Down (rabbits), Guardians of Ga’Hoole (owls and I saw that movie last year and it was great) and Warriors (cats). Does anyone else have any animal stories to add to my list? Do you like animal stories and if not, why?

I’ve heard some people say it is a ridiculous idea to have talking animals but I think that Wilbur, the talking pig in Charlotte’s Web would have to be one of the most famous characters of all time.

But I also believe it’s important for a writer to write what they love. So yes, I am working on an animal story!

Here is a YouTube of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole movie trailer. if you get a chance, read the book and watch the DVD. Let me know which one you think is best.

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The Phantom Stallion: The Wild One by Terri Farley

This is a great book for the ones that love horses, it is the first in the series and I recommend the whole series to anyone that loves horses! The Phantom Stallion is the first series and it’s about Sam who has an accident and looses her horse Blackie into the wild. But after 3 years she is driving back home from San Francisco with her Aunt Sue but while she is driving home she sees a white horse is it Blackie or not?

I enjoyed this book because it is attachable and an amazing story. I got it out three times because I enjoyed the book so much. I am now in the middle of the series two and I am enjoying the book as well.

The info on the back:

It’s been two years since Blackie, the horse Sam raised from a foal, threw her in a near-fatal accident. She’s been separated from her family, her ranch and the wild mustangs she loves. Now she’s home again, but her beloved Blackie has been missing since the day Sam was injured.

Then, on the night she returns, a mustang comes to Sam. Is it Blackie, grown up and gone wild? Is it the legendary stallion known as the Phantom? Or could it be both?

Hope you will enjoy this book!

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Nanny Piggins by R. A. Spratt

Mr. Green desperately needs to find a new nanny for his children. In the four weeks  since their last nanny left, he has found himself actually having to talk to them, provide  them with meals and pay attention to them himself!! And all this has to stop.

Nanny  Piggins is a most unusual nanny. She is a pig. … Not just any ordinary pig though, Nanny  Piggins has run away from the circus, where she was the circus’ famous flying pig! Mr  Green’s three children Derrick, Samantha and Michael think they are incredibly lucky to have her.

Join Nanny Piggins on a series of wonderful adventures, read them all! There are 3 or 4 books in the series so far. (Is that right Zac?)

My favourite chapter was Nanny Piggins and the ‘sherbet lemon that saved the day’, because it seemed that Nanny Piggins had no idea whatsoever that the man who had got in the car was the one of the town’s most wanted criminals.

This book was recommended to me by my best friend Grace and also by my sister Eibhlin, so I would recommend this to ages 7+ because Eibhlin read it when she was 7.

I rate The Adventures of Nanny Piggins 10/10 because it was very funny; there is a one page disclaimer at the front of Nanny Piggins warning that Nanny Piggins’ diet (which consists of chocolate, cake, lollies, icecream and more) is not one to be followed unless you are a pig.

🙂 🙂


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Star Guest: Raymond Huber talks about Wings

Wings is another adventure for Ziggy the bee (introduced in Sting). Bees are disappearing in Tokyo and Ziggy discovers something that could destroy all honey bees. He meets angry Giant Hornets, goes underground and is challenged to life and death puzzle game.

I got the idea for Wings when some of my bees died from pesticide poisoning. The bees have to survive in a mega-city with helicopters, bullet trains, motorbikes and lasers. One of my favourite new characters is Fang, a puzzle snake who lives on Mt Fuji.

Visit my website to see more puzzles:

You can look forward to reading more about Raymond’s writing when he is our October Star Author.

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The Wolf in the Wardrobe by Susan Brocker

When Finn comes across a car accident, little does he realize that his life is about to change forever.  The huge, injured animal he discovers is no dog – but a wolf, escaped from the circus that he went to with his Dad.  Finn knows that he must save the wolf, Lupa, and prevent her from returning to the circus and the sinister circus clown, Cackles, who torments her.

Finn takes her to the vet and they patch her up, but then he has to figure out how he will pay the vet bill.  Where will he hide her and how will he feed her?  When Finn’s Nana discovers Lupa in the wardrobe, he thinks he’ll be in big trouble, but his Nana thinks Lupa is her old dog Molly and she only wants to keep her safe.  Meanwhile, Cackles the Clown is hot on their trail and will stop at nothing to get Lupa back.  But Cackles doesn’t even like wolves though so why is he so determined to get her?

The Wolf in the Wardrobe is a great story about a boy who will do whatever he can to protect his animal friend.  Finn gives up the things that he loves so that he can earn extra money to help Lupa and learns all that he can about wolves to help take care of her.  Finn’s Nana was my favourite character, because she made me laugh and even though she would forget who Finn was sometimes, she’d help him to care for Lupa.  I also liked the character of Cackles because he was so sinister and creepy.  If you like books about animals or just a story with great characters, you’ll love Wolf in the Wardrobe by Susan Brocker.    Recommended for 9+    8 out of 10

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