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Animal Protagonists

My writing challenge for today is to actually write something for my blog rather than posting a link or a picture.

Hmm. Let’s see now. Well I went to a talk this past Monday by Maria Tatar, author of Enchanted Hunters. During the talk one of the audience members asked a question about animals in children’s books. I can’t remember what the question was exactly, but the moderator (Homi Bhabha) commented that the idea that animals can talk is not a far-fetched one because he talks to his dog all the time, and his dog always seems to communicate back.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with my sister a while ago about how it is a lot harder to see non-pet animals in then US (at least in cities) than it was during our trip to India. Where here in Boston you might see a squirrel or birds scampering about (or rarely a racoon or a skunk), in India we regularly saw monkeys, cows, boars, goats, or camels even in large cities. Whenever one sees an animal it is natural to wonder how they view the world, what they think about us, etc. and similarly a book about an animal can be enthralling in that way.

But does encountering fewer animals make us less likely to want to read about them? I mean, how many of you children’s writers have seen editors/agents emphatically request that you NOT send them your manuscript-with-an-animal-protagonist? Is it because these editors/agents just don’t relate to these works? Most of these people in the book biz are in NYC and there really aren’t very many wild animals to be seen there. Other than humans, of course.

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