A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
I love animals in fiction. In fact, on making this list, I’d planned to go for my top 5, but when that filled up pretty quickly with rabbits, I realised I’d have to be ruthless. And so, welcome to my top 10 fictional animals (rabbits included).
First of all Timmy gets equal billing as one of the five and quite rightly so. He frequently gives them physical protection and often helps the gang solve a mystery or apprehend a criminal. He’s George’s dog, but loves them all and he’s totally loyal. Go Timmy.
Oh Mr Toad with his ‘toot toot’, his dressing up as a washer woman to escape prison and his ability to drive a car (sort of). I loved his foolishness. Yes he learns his lesson and yes he comes good and vanquishes the evil weasels from Toad Hall, but it’s Mr Toad at his silly best that I love.
A kind hearted, if accident prone, bear with a love of marmalade sandwiches and a blue duffle coat, Paddington is utterly loveable, full of adventure and completely relevant today.
Jeremy isn’t as famous as Peter Rabbit, nor as mischievous, but he wears a macintosh and galoshes to go fishing, which I always rather admired. Yes there’s an incident, which makes him vow he’ll never go fishing again, but he recovers quickly to enjoy dinner with Sir Isaac Newton (a newt friend, well done, Beatrix) so all’s well.
With his red and white striped hat and red bow tie, The Cat in the Hat is wholly mischievous and brings fun and a little chaos into two children’s lives when their mother goes out. After a wild adventure in which he balances the children’s fish on top of his umbrella and releases Thing One and Thing Two to wreak havoc, all is forgiven once their mother returns and the Cat in the Hat leaves. He’s anarchy, imagination and pure fun.
I’m not a fan of spiders, but oh this clever, clever spider who saves a pig from being slaughtered by writing positive messages in her web, is a character you’ll fall in love with. So much so that I sobbed when she died though recovered a little because three of her daughters stay to keep Wilbur company. Charlotte’s not exactly the star of the show (despite the title) but she is the true heroine.
Fiver’s the smallest of his litter and Hazel’s younger brother. He’s the one with the sixth sense, even if his visions are a little vague at times. The other rabbits find him odd and possibly think him mad, but because Hazel trusts him, they begin to trust him too and in the end he saves not only his brother’s life, but most of the warren. He may be different, but he’s kind, loyal and lovable.
If there was one fictional animal I could meet it would be Iorek. Who wouldn’t want to meet this bear who’s rescued from servitude to claim his throne then fights from the heart with total loyalty to the girl (Lyra) who rescued him. Iorek’s tale is one of honour and redemption and he’s my favourite character.
Another rabbit, well, Arctic Hare, Hester was Lee Scoresby’s daemon and she was witty, sarcastic and brave. She also talked in a strong, Southern accent, just like Lee. The last scene between them had me in bits. Almost as much as the moment I finished all three books.
This is the story of a shabby stuffed rabbit who longs to become real through the love of his owner, a little boy. If you haven’t read this then here’s a warning: this story of love and acceptance will make you cry. A lot. It’s also written beautifully. Here’s a sample: ‘It doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.’
Sarah Baker has worked extensively in film, with roles at Aardman Features and the Bermuda Film Festival, and as Story Editor at Celador Films. She has also been a writer and blogger for vintage fashion magazines. Sarah currently lives in London with her son. THROUGH THE MIRROR DOOR is her first book, a time-slip novel for 9+ that’s perfect for fans of Emma Carroll, Katherine Rundell and Robin Stevens.