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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > Jan/Feb 2019 > When animals talk

When animals talk

Author-illustrator teams put anthropomorphism to good use

The Dog Who Wanted to Fly

Kathy Stinson and Brandon James Scott, ill.

Annick Press, Ages 3–6

Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets: An Unusual Alphabet

Sara O’Leary and Jacob Grant, ill.

Tundra Books, Ages 3–7

The Girl and the Wolf

Katherena Vermette and Julie Flett, ill.

Theytus Books, Ages 3–5

ANIMALS WITH human characteristics have been appearing in picture books for so long that their place or purpose in a story is rarely questioned — readers accept and embrace the conventions around all permutations of talking, clothed, and civically engaged creatures. But anthropomorphism often has a specific function and three new releases show how different the results can be when animals start talking.

The Dog Who Wanted to Fly is about a pup named Zora with one goal in life: catching a squirrel. Motivated by the examples of light she notices around her, Zora makes many unsuccessful attempts at liftoff, all the while chided by a cat named Tully. Written by Kathy Stinson, Zora’s story exempliies how animals often act similarly to children in picture books: having conversations, asking questions, and boldly trying new things. Both animal characters in the story fulfill the expectations of their respective species – Zora is lovably dopey and Tully is smugly superior.

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