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Best Middle Grade Fiction Books for Animal Lovers

Does your child love animals? These are the perfect books to get any animal lover wrapped up in a story!

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh: A remarkably thoughtful and emotional book, “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh” revolves around poor Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with a sick baby, Timothy, who must leave her home before it is destroyed by plows. Worried, she turns to the mysterious Rats of Nimh for help, a group of 108 genetically-enhanced “super rats.” The adventurous escape of Mrs. Frisby with the help of the phenomenally clever Rats of Nimh is exhilarating, but it is the profound themes of heroism and morality that make this Newbery Award-winning story more thought-provoking than your average children’s book. Great for mystery lovers, animal lovers, and anyone looking for a story that can be both a thrilling read and the basis for a good discussion with your child!

Masterpiece: Winner of the 2008 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year in Children’s Fiction, “Masterpiece” is a humorous mystery with a lot of heart narrated by Marvin the Beetle, who becomes unlikely friends with an eleven-year-old boy named James. James, caught up in his parents’ divorce, takes credit for a drawing done by the very-talented Marvin. Together, the two are caught up in an art forgery scheme. The mystery will hold your child’s attention, while the themes of divorce and friendship resonate. There’s also some fun information about art history thrown in that will delight kids who love drawing and painting. The writing style is quick-moving and witty, with an excellent use of vocabulary, and enough plot-twists to keep even a skeptical reader intrigued. The friendship between James and Marvin is truly special!

The One and Only Ivan: The One and Only Ivan is another Newbery winner. Inspired by a real event, this book tells the story of a gorilla named Ivan who lived behind a glass enclosure in a shopping mall for 27 years. The cool thing about this book is that it is told from Ivan’s point of view, which really draws readers into the story immediately. While the book is heartbreaking at times, the characters are wonderful and there is an unforgettable message of friendship, hope, and courage. This is an emotional and intelligent story that you and your kids will find very rewarding.

The Tale of Despereaux: A heartwarming story of unlikely heroes, this book is filled with great adventure and important life lessons. Desperaux is a tiny mouse with ears that are unusually large, who is rejected by his family. He falls in love with the young Princess who rules the castles in which he lives. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing, and every character is wonderfully written. The book has short chapters with pictures scattered throughout. It's scary enough to be thrilling, but not so scary that it will cause nightmares. Overall, it's a perfect bedtime book that the whole family will enjoy.

Where the Red Fern Grows: This is one of the most rewarding, deeply felt, and highly-recommended children’s books of all time. Where the Red Fern Grows is a beautiful coming-of-age story about the relationship between young Billy and his two puppies — Old Dan and Little Ann. The three best friends chase raccoons in the Ozark Mountains and grow up together, eventually becoming the best coon-hunting team in the state. This book will teach your child the value of hard work, loyalty, and friendship, and is an extremely worthwhile read, despite having a somewhat tragic ending. A must-read for anyone who loves powerful, emotional stories — there’s a reason there are over 7 million copies of it in print!

Stuart Little: This book by E.B. White is one of the all-time classic children's books. Although it was published way back in 1945, it remains a great book today. Stuart Little is a mouse who is born into a normal human family. His sophisticated and philosophical outlook make him one of the most beloved fictional characters of all time. The book follows Stuart on a quest across the American countryside where he encounters a wide variety engaging characters. He overcomes obstacles with a unique perspective and a joyful determination. A great blend of fantasy and reality, and a book that kids and adults will certainly love!

Mr. Popper's Penguins: This hilarious book is a must-read for animal lovers. Mr. Popper is an aficionado of all things South Pole-related, who writes a fan letter to explorer Admiral Drake, never expecting he will receive a penguin in the mail in return! Written in 1938, this remains one of the best children’s books of all time. As Mr. Popper’s penguin family grows and grows, he takes his penguins on the road. Hijinks ensue as the penguins and Mr. Popper must learn how to put on a traveling show to make money.