Mr. Popper is a mild-mannered house painter who spends all his spare time reading about Admiral Drake and his expeditions to the Antarctic, and dreams of being an explorer himself. Mr. Popper writes the Admiral a letter and the Admiral responds by sending him a special present—a penguin! This charmingly absurd book is about having the courage to be different and the conviction to follow your dreams. Newberry Honor book.
This 1947 novel is a must-read for any young horse lover. A tiny island in coastal Virginia is home to a band of beautiful wild ponies, and Paul and Maureen dream of making one of them their own. The children learn that following a dream isn’t easy, and that sometimes it’s hard to hold onto what you love. Newbery Honor Book.
- by Ralph Moody
Adults may know Come On, Seabiscuit as the book Laura Hillenbrand credited with inspiring her lifelong fascination with the horse. Kids will love this exciting true story of a knobby-kneed horse, a down-on-his-luck jockey, and the unlikely path that brought them victory.
- by Eric Knight
Lassie is Joe’s beloved dog and constant companion, but when Joe’s father loses his job, Lassie must be sold. Three times Lassie escapes from her new owner to return home to Joe in Yorkshire, but then she’s sold to a wealthy lord in Scotland to be trained for dog shows … but she desperately misses her “boy” and is determined to find him. A poignant tale of the bond between a boy and his dog, and a perfect book for any young dog-lover.
- by Wilson Rawls
A story of a boy and his dogs, and about so much more: love and yearning, struggle and poverty, and hunting—which means it's necessarily about death. My fifth grade teacher made a class of thirty students cry, excepting none, when she read the final chapters aloud. Of note: Rawls spent twenty years writing this novel, then burned it out of embarrassment. Lucky for us, his wife encouraged him to write it again, and he dashed off the whole thing (sans punctuation) in three weeks. Originally published as an adult novel, it still didn't sell until teachers and students got ahold of it.