SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Talking Animals in MG

Discussion started on

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region losangeles
Hi All,

Wasn't sure if there's already a thread for this, I did a search, but couldn't find quite what I was looking for.  Sort of a 2-part question.

1st Part: I'm writing a MG story with a 10 yr. old protagonist set in a real-world US city where animals speak (not given this power by any sort of magical occurrence or supernatural accident), *they just simply talk to humans when they feel like it—does it fall under the realm of fantasy? Urban fantasy? Or maybe just a touch of magical realism.

*The logic is that animals learn basic life skills much quicker than humans, and develop the ability to speak.

2nd Part: Just looking for any opinions on the current state of talking animals in middle grade. I don't know of many stories (in the current market) outside true other-world fantasy where animals talk to humans.

Thanks!
Brendan





#1 - October 10, 2017, 12:40 PM
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 01:08 PM by Tracer_Brendan »

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wisconsin
1. If this is the only magical/supernatural element in the book, I'd call it magical realism. Another plus here is that agents and editors are looking for magical realism. Whereas UF is a "tough sell" right now (isn't everything, though), although that may apply mostly to YA.

2. I don't think the current state is as robust as I suspect it could be. I do know someone who recently sold a talking animal MG, but there seem to be fewer animal stories in general (talking or not) being done than many people feel readers this age would like.
#2 - October 10, 2017, 03:19 PM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Moderator
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
Whether it's fantasy or magical realism is hard to say. It would depend on the rest of the story.

It might be good to ask at a library ofr book store for recent MG with talking animals and see what gets handed to you.
#3 - October 10, 2017, 09:23 PM

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region ireland
I've written PB and Early Reader anthropomorphic stories a long time, never MG. Under that premise I cannot offer advice, except to say that whenever I have read my work children are curious to know how & why would an animal talk and how did they learn. In that respect, there must have been a crossover with humans, either directly or indirectly. Language is learned in every context.
There was a fallback a few years ago on the topic of anthropomorhic fiction. It fell out of favour but I think it is crawling back a bit.
I think you have to offer a bit of background plot to give the reader an idea of where these characters have learned what they have.
#4 - October 11, 2017, 05:49 AM

Owl Princess
Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
Unfortunately, talking animals are a hard sell in today's market.

One excellent recent MG with talking skunks is THE MIDNIGHT WAR OF MATEO MARTINEZ by Robin Yardi.

 :owl  :owl :bunny2  :horse2  :moose   :turtlego   :cat   :bear2  :hamster :dog2  :sheep  :hedgehog  :fishbowl  :pigsnort  :owl  :owl
#5 - October 11, 2017, 10:11 AM
ANTIQUE PIANO & OTHER SOUR NOTES
http://decoowlpress.com

Barb  :owl

Website: http://barbaraetlin.com
Blog: http://owlsquill.blogspot.com

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region florida
THE UNDERNEATH comes to mind as an MG with an animal as the narrator, but I don't remember there being any human interaction.  As stated by others, these do seem to be few in number.   
#6 - October 11, 2017, 11:18 AM
ROYALLY ENTITLED (inspirational/historical YA) and OOPS-A-DAISY (humorous MG) out now.  http://www.melodydelgado.com/

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region losangeles
Hi All,

Thank you for your replies. Definitely going to check out the books recommended. I think when querying time comes, I'll revisit how to incorporate magical realism into the letter.


Thanks again.
#7 - October 11, 2017, 11:58 AM
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 12:01 PM by Tracer_Brendan »

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region midatlantic
The Familiars - I think it is a trilogy. Only the familiars can speak to humans. Not every animal in the world.
#8 - October 11, 2017, 01:18 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Moderator
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
The Tale of Desperaux. He's not so recent anymore but he did earn a Newbery. Not sure if Kate DiCamillo's more recent book also has a talking animal. The funny thing is children's cartoons are full of them, just claim they're ninjas and you're fine.
#9 - October 11, 2017, 08:18 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region wwa
Kate Di Camillo's books also came to mind and I believe her newest does involve talking animals. (Snake?)

 :bunny2    :dogwalk    :pigsnort  (Mercy Watson, are chapter books, I believe?)
#10 - October 12, 2017, 06:29 AM

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region losangeles
I've kept Desperaux in mind.

I think, while even though there is no explanation for why the animals can speak with humans, and that there is no magic in the story, the fact that it takes place in a far off kingdom gives it a little more freedom for us to just assume that is the norm.

#11 - October 12, 2017, 10:13 AM

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wisconsin
Do remember than an established, not to mention famous, author can "get away" with more, because their names will sell books.
#12 - October 12, 2017, 12:27 PM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region losangeles
Oh yes.
#13 - October 12, 2017, 12:28 PM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.