OwlCrate Jr Backlist Reads: Animal Party!

By: OwlCrate Jr

OwlCrate Jr Backlist Reads: Animal Party! 

Before my daughter started school and was home with me full time, I liked to schedule our months around a theme and one our favourites was Animals! Stories with animals, especially anthropomorphic stories, have always been beloved in this house. So I thought it would be fun to revisit that theme! With that in mind, this month’s backlist reads article will be all about a celebration and exploration of various animals through  these excellent eco fable, animal centred middle grade titles! I hope you enjoy! 


To Read:

Spineless by Samantha San Miguel:

Spineless by Samantha San Miguel

The action in this genre mashup middle grade of magical realism, historical fiction, and steampunk, starts immediately and so it’s perfect for any reader with a short attention span. 12-year-old Algie is a hopeful, budding naturalist who, one chilly winter in Chicago, travels with his mom and older brother to Florida where the warmer climate will be easier on his asthma. Set in the later half of the 19th Century treatments for asthma were not well known or readily available and Algie lives in a shadow of constant fear of being unable to breathe. As his steamboat arrives in the Florida harbour, his path immediately crosses with a mischievous young Octopus that he rescues - a young friend that will continue to surface throughout the story! Here at the Hotel Paraiso, there are all manner of oddities and strange occurrences - from swimming pools full of ink, to dead creatures washing ashore, and odd lights at night in the gardens. Pairing up with the two daughters of the hotel’s owner, Lulu and Frankie (smart young naturalist’s themselves), Algie and the girls will fight to save the creatures of the swamp while trying to figure out what it is that is hurting them. A little bit creepy, a little by mysterious, and whole pile of steampunk fun await in this middle grade! 

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman:

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman

In this beautiful eco fable famed fantasy writer Lev Grossman has gifted us with a wonderful adventure story that is perfect for young readers, older readers, and as a family read aloud! Follow along with Kate and her younger brother as they are gifted with a magical train and the responsibility to transport animals of all kinds across the planet - and even into the sky! An adventure story embedded with a strong stinging message of the condition of our precious planet, humans role in animal extinctions, and our responsibility to nurture and protect these species. It’s a wonderfully cozy middle grade to curl up with on a cold winter night and the charming illustrations by Tracy Nishimura Bishop add to the magic. 

Wingbearer by Marjorie Liu and Tony Issakhanian:

Wingbearer by Marjorie Liu and Tony Issakhanian

This wonderfully drawn and excellently written middle grade graphic novel will appeal to any fantasy lover of stories with high stakes, mystery, and great adventure! Zuli lives in a magical place - an enchanted tree, known as the Great Tree - an is raised by the wondrous birds that inhabit it. But one day the birds begin dying off and something (or someone) is threatening this magic of the life-giving tree. Zuli must venture beyond the world she has known to find answers, rescue her home, and will discover the secrets of her past as she meets creatures of all kinds. Accompanied by her cantankerous owl companion/guardian, this richly drawn fantasy is a little bit Avatar meets Wings of Fire meets Amulet. 


To Do:

Make your own dream train:

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 One of my favourite parts of The Silver Arrow is when Kate and her brother get to pick any train cars they want for their own dream train —including a library car and candy car! Follow along with this easy Train Craft to make and decorate your own dream train. Simply draw, design, and decorate as many train cars as you can dream up to add to your train front. Thanks to readingtokids.org for this wonderful suggestion! 

Free Coloring Page! Birds are of course a crucial component to Zuli’s life - her home is a magical tree that gives new life to birds after all! Bring to life beautiful birds of your own imagination with this lovely bird mandala - a free download from Faber-Castell. I love relaxing with an audiobook and colouring book!