One of my newest middle-grade novels, A Tale Magnolious, centers on the deep and tender friendship between orphan Nitty Luce and Magnolious the elephant.
Part of the reason I chose to write about Nitty and Magnolious is because I’ve always been fascinated by the connections I see between people and animals. Animals provide us with friendship, comfort, protection, and love. When I come across a book that depicts a timeless friendship between a person and an animal, it tends to become a book I return to again and again.
The Underneath, by Kathi Appelt, is a book I’ve read to each of my own children as they’ve grown. With its beautiful language and poignant storyline, it’s a tale that begs to be read aloud. I love books that weave multiple stories and points of view, and this one combines a survival story with themes of love, loss, and the nature of revenge and forgiveness. It is a must-read.
I am a huge fan of Kate DiCamillo. I buy every single book she writes. These are books that will stay in my library forever and be passed down to my children and grandchildren. Flora & Ulysses is one of the many books I love by this timeless, award-winning author. Who would not love a poetry-composing squirrel who gets sucked into a vacuum only to be spit-out and revived as a furry super hero? Ulysses the squirrel asks great questions of the universe as he delights in donuts, flying, and verse. Flora is an indomitable heroine and her friendship with Ulysses is utterly charming and, many times, laugh-out-loud funny. If you haven’t read this treasure yet, make it a priority.
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, and Pax by Sara Pennypacker are both poignant coming-of-age tales of loyalty, love, and friendship. Crenshaw is an imaginary friend, but that makes him no less real than the true-to-life fox, Pax. Pax may make you cry. For that matter, Crenshaw may, too. Both books will stay with you long after you’ve finished them.
Read any of these books for a heartwarming, tender tale. Better yet, read all of them.