Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Best Animal Stories EVER!


Happy New Year!

Mom and I are ringing in 2021 right (or write) with our latest Super Duper Awesomeness List of Best Animals Stories Ever. At least that was the plan. Until one of us got sidetracked. Again. (Hi, Mom.)

“There are just too many great animal books out there,” says Her Crankiness. “If we tried listing even a fraction of the excellent stories told from an animal’s point of view or feature animals as the main character(s), we’ll be here till Kingdom come!”

No idea what that means. But that’s where one of us changed plans. So instead of tallying up a list of Best Animal Stories Ever, we’re shifting to a list of Awesome Authors of Best Animal Stories Ever. Because some authors write numerous animal books.

So here to ring in the New Year WRITE is our totally subjective, 100% unscientific list of Awesome Authors of Best Animal Stories Ever and a brief list of their best known books. All are either told from an animal’s POV or an animal is the central character. (You may detect a slight canine bias here. But, hey! It’s me! Ready? Set? Go!)

Joy Adamson

Born Free

True story of Elsa, the lioness, and the humans who loved her enough to set her free. A classic. Mom can’t even put into words how much she loves this book. It was made into a movie:


Sheila Burnford

The Incredible Journey

The story of three pets as they travel 300 miles through the Canadian wilderness searching for their beloved humans. It depicts the suffering and stress of an arduous journey, together with the unwavering loyalty and courage of the three animals. The story is set in the northwestern part of Ontario.

Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn Dixie

One summer’s day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries – and comes home with a dog.

But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie.

Fred Gipson

Old Yeller, Sounder, and Savage Sam.

Old Yeller, Winner of the Newbery Honor

When his father sets out on a cattle drive for the summer, fourteen-year-old Travis is left to take care of his mother, younger brother, and the family farm. In the wilderness of early frontier Texas, Travis faces his new and often dangerous responsibilities, with many adventures along the way, all with the help of the big yellow dog who comes to be his best friend.

Sounder, Winner of the John Newbery Medal

Sounder is a loyal family dog, determined to help his owners through thick and thin. This is the story of a great coon dog and the poor sharecroppers who own him, and of the courage and love that bind a black family together in the face of extreme prejudice from the outside world.

Savage Sam

In this sequel to Old Yeller, Travis and his younger brother are kidnapped by an Indian raiding party, and Savage Sam, the son of the beloved yellow dog, leads a frantic chase to bring them back.

John Grogan

Marley and Me

Bring Kleenex.


Marguerite Henry

King of the Wind, Brighty of the Grand Canyon, the Misty of Chincoteague and related books

Horses, horses, horses! And one bright burro of the Grand Canyon.

James and Deborah Howe


The titular character is a harmless rabbit with unusual eating habits and minor vampiric qualities in this series of children’s books.

Toby, a member of the Monroe family, found the rabbit in a theater while the film Dracula was screening. Bunnicula is subjected to many murder attempts by Chester the cat. Warm up your funny bone for this one!

Dick King-Smith

Babe: The Gallant Pig

Set in rural England, where the author spent twenty years as a farmer, it features a lone pig on a sheep farm. It was adapted as the 1995 film Babe, which was a great international success.

Eric Knight

Lassie Come Home

The quintessential dog story before “dog stories” were cool. Lassie is Joe’s prize collie and constant companion. But when Joe’s father loses his job, Lassie must be sold. Three times she escapes from her new owner. Three times she returns home to Joe, until finally she is taken to the remotest part of Scotland―too far a journey for any dog to make alone. But Lassie is not just any dog…

We loved this book! (Besides, says Kimber. Lassie’s probably a close relative, okay?)

Iain Lawrence

The Winter Pony

The remarkable story of one plucky pony, James Pigg, who made the trip to the South Pole as part of Robert F. Scott’s failed Antarctic expedition. Poignant and powerful.

Elyne Mitchell

The Silver Brumby series.

A silver brumby will be hunted by man and horse alike, and must be stronger than both to survive and remain free. Thowra, the magnificent silver stallion, is king of the wild brumbies. But he must defend his herd from a challenger, The Brolga, as well as man. Thowra needs all his speed and cunning to save himself and his herd from capture.

A wonderful series of stories about the magnificent wild brumby horses of Australia. Juvenile fiction but enjoyable at any age.

Walt Morey

Gentle Ben, Scrub Dog of Alaska and Kavik the Wolf Dog.

Stunningly beautiful wilderness settings enhance solid stories of the unbreakable bond between dogs and humans (and a bear!).

Michael Morpurgo

War Horse

Joey, a farm horse, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of World War I on the Western Front. When Joey is dragged away, his heart aches for Albert, the farmer’s son he is forced to leave behind. In the army the beautiful red-bay horse is trained to charge the enemy, drag heavy artillery, and carry wounded soldiers not much older than Albert off the battlefields. Amongst the clamoring of guns, and while plodding through the cold mud, Joey wonders if the war will ever end. And if it does, will he ever find Albert again?

Spencer Quinn

Dog on It: A Chet and Bernie Mystery,

Chet is on the case! Hilarious!

Wilson Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows

The beloved classic that captures the powerful bond between man and man’s best friend.A timeless family classic. If this doesn’t pull at your heartstrings, better check your pulse.



Felix Salten

Bambi, A Forest Land, Renni the Rescuer

Our favorite from this trio is Renni the Rescuer. Renni is a German Shepherd. The runt of the litter, Renni is selected by young George and taken home. George begins to teach him, and soon Renni is able to do remarkable things. When a trainer suggests Renni become a rescue dog, George knows it’s a perfect fit for his pet. Soon Renni is able to find anyone in any situation.

Then the war begins, and Renni and George enlist. They help many soldiers during training camp—but when they are tested in the actual battlefield, can the two friends hold their ground? A moving, evocative plot with exceptional storytelling.

Anna Sewell

Black Beauty,

The immortal classic. Although Black Beauty is often seen as a children’s novel, Sewell did not write the novel for children. She said that her purpose in writing the novel was “to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment” of horses.

E.B. White

The Trumpet of the Swan, Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web

Delightful stories about overcoming obstacles with creativity, dignity, and grit. Beautifully written.

What would you add?

8 thoughts on “Best Animal Stories EVER!

  1. Lassie Come Home made me cry when I was a kid. Still does. 😦

  2. I’ll never match your “avidness”. I think I’ve only read about half of these. And, before I forget, Happy New Year!

  3. A Dog’s Purpose by W Bruce Cameron and some of the non fiction books about animals during the war such as Bill The Bastard and Horrie The War Dog.

    • Thanks for weighing in. Am familiar with but havent read any of these yet. Will have to add them to my TBR list!

      • Sucker for animal books, though often can’t finish them : just too sad. I’de completely forgotten about The Incredible Journey – what a tearjerker!

      • I know what you mean! Where The Red Fern Grows and Marley and Me get me every time. Ditto Mark Levin’s “Rescuing Sprite.” One of these days I’m going to write a book called, “The Dog Lives”!

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