5 Middle Grade Books with Animal Companions, a guest post by Kalyn Josephson
In every story I read or movie I watched as a kid, my favorite character was always the animal companion or inanimate sidekick, like Morph from Treasure Planet and M-Bot in Brandon Sanderson’s SKYWARD. Although often the side character, they were always there to provide guidance, companionship, or even just a little comedic relief.
When I set out to write RAVENFALL, which features both a magical cat and a sentient house, one of the things at the forefront of my mind was what remains one of my greatest childhood gripes: that in these stories, the dog was always the good guy, and the cat was always the bad guy. I wanted to write a story where the cat not only helps save the day but is the animal companion everyone loves. Thus was born Max, the mischievous black cat that may or may not actually be entirely just a cat.
To that end (and in Max’s honor, of course), I wanted to put together a list showcasing some of the truly fantastic animal companions in recent middle grade releases. While middle grade stories are replete with adorable animals and sidekicks, here are five that have really stuck with me.
THE GILDED GIRL by Alyssa Colman
Set in 1906 New York City, THE GILDED GIRL follows twelve-year-old Emma and Izzy through Miss Posterity’s Academy for Practical Magic as they fight to keep their magic from being taken away.
It features the truly delightful Figgy Pudding, a house dragon masquerading as a wise, wry-humored black cat as he helps guide the girls through their journey.
EVA EVERGREEN, SEMI-MAGICAL WITCH by Julie Abe
To earn the rank of Novice Witch and keep her magic, Eva Evergreen must successfully serve her assigned town for one moon. Except Eva only has a pinch of magic, and there’s a huge magical storm threatening her town. If she can’t protect it, she’ll never become a witch.
Ever at Eva’s side is the absolutely adorable and slightly mischievous flamefox, Ember, whose own struggle with magic teaches Eva about hers, while providing a little humor.
GHOST SQUAD by Claribel Ortega
When Lucely and her best friend, Syd, accidentally release a hoard of malicious spirits on their town, they must work together with Syd’s grandmother and her host of magical cats to reverse the damage before it’s too late.
One of those magical cats is the tubby tabby, Chunk, one of eight named after a Goonies character who teams up with Lucely and Syd to put a stop to the spirits.
THE GINGERBREAD WITCH by Alexandra Overy
When Maud’s mother is pushed into an oven by a pair of witch hunters, Maud must team up with the witch’s other creations to find the First Witch’s spellbook and revive her mother before they all turn back into gingerbread.
This book features a whole cast of amazing animal companions. There’s Grim, the three-legged wolf, Nuss, the gingerbread squirrel, and Florian, the overprotective vulture, who are with Maud every step of the way, providing plenty of laughter and love.
THE LOST RYU by Emi Watanabe Cohen
Kohei has an impossible memory—his grandpa gazing up at a big ryū, which haven’t been seen for twenty years. When his grandpa grows ill, Kohei sets out with his new neighbor Isolde and their two pocket-sized ryūs to bring the big ryū back so his grandpa will smile again.
Ryū companions are common in this world, but the two at the core of this story are the big-hearted Yuharu and contemplative Cheshire, who are at once sources of guidance and wisdom, and confidants for Kohei and Isolde.
Meet the author
Kalyn Josephson is a fantasy author living in the California Bay Area. She loves books, cats, books with cats, and making up other worlds to live in for a while.
One magical inn, two kids with supernatural powers, and an ancient Celtic creature trying to destroy their world by Halloween night…
Halloweentown meets Supernatural in this spooky middle-grade series from the acclaimed author of the Storm Crow duology!
Thirteen-year-old Annabella Ballinkay has never been normal, even by her psychic family’s standards. Every generation uses their abilities to help run the Ravenfall Inn, a sprawling, magical B&B at the crossroads of the human world and the Otherworld. But it’s hard to contribute when your only power is foreseeing death.
So when fourteen-year-old Colin Pierce arrives at Ravenfall searching for his missing older brother and the supernatural creature who killed their parents, Anna jumps at the chance to help. But the mysteries tied to Colin go much deeper than either of them expects. . . .
As the two team up to find answers, they unearth Colin’s family’s secret past and discover that Colin has powers beyond his imagination. And now the supernatural creature, one with eerie origins in Celtic mythology, is coming after him. If Anna and Colin can’t stop the creature by Halloween night, the veil to the Otherworld could be ripped open—which would spell destruction for their world as they know it.
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication date: 09/06/2022
Series: Ravenfall #1
Age Range: 10 – 13 Years
Filed under: Guest Post
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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