New Animal Stories

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 6

Olivia has a crisis. She doesn't know what she should be since all the girls, and some of the boys, always choose to be pink princesses, and she is NOT the pink princess type. Besides, if EVERYONE is a princess, then princesses aren't special.

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The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Grades 4+

Ivan (The Ape at Exit 8) is a downtrodden, has-been silverback gorilla living in a small, unkept domain within a shopping mall, occasionally accompanied by Bob, a stray dog who sneaks into Ivan's domain through a hole in the glass.

Stella, an aging elephant with a bad foot, dies from lack of treatment after Ruby, a baby elephant purchased from a defunct circus, arrives at the mall. The owner hopes Ruby will jumpstart visitor attendance again. Before Stella dies, she asks Ivan to promise that he will bring Ruby somewhere safe, knowing his devotion to protection of his friends is paramount.

Ivan's poetic narration is honest, painful, and heartbreaking; Applegate's insight into captive animal life is powerful. Don't miss this book, no matter how old you are.

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A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton

Grades 1-4

A boy, looking to go to the other side, hops into a bear's boat for what he is assured will not be too long of a journey. Hours later, the bear continues to assure the boy that They. Are. Not. Lost.  Sometimes unforseen anomalies arise, you know.

Days later the two have run out of sandwiches.

A simple, quiet adventure story perfectly tailored for a bedtime read-aloud, A Boy and a Bear in a Boat recalls cozy, character-rich classics with plenty to think about, yet is one of a kind and quite quirky.

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Other good read-alouds for age 4 to 2nd grade and grades 3 and older.

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