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Genres & Age Categories => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: Margaret G on January 23, 2016, 04:45 PM

Title: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: Margaret G on January 23, 2016, 04:45 PM
This is such a random question but, does anyone know of any picture books where an anthropomorphic animal main character has a pet who is also an animal (but not anthropomorphic)? What are people's general thoughts on this?

Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: DianaM on January 23, 2016, 05:20 PM
How about, "Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet".

In general, I think that general idea is totally fine.
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: DianaM on January 23, 2016, 05:23 PM
Oh, and what about Olivia. She and her friends are anthropomorphic pigs, but they have pets. I'm betting there are loads of examples.
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: Margaret G on January 23, 2016, 05:55 PM
Oooh, those are good ones, DianaM. I'm so glad this board is available. This is kind of a hard topic to google!  :goodpost
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: Kell on January 23, 2016, 06:29 PM
Arthur and his friends are animals of various kinds, including dogs and cats, and they have dogs and cats.
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: JennaWren on January 23, 2016, 07:04 PM
Sure, and Franklin too!

I think there are lots to find -- I might start my search with a simple "pet story" PB search on Google or wherever you want. From there you'll be able to separate human MCs from their anthropomorphic counterparts, I bet.
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: Margaret G on January 24, 2016, 08:44 AM
Thanks Kell!

Jenna Wren, good suggestion. Thank you!
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: June Smalls on January 24, 2016, 10:39 AM
Mickey Mouse has Pluto.
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: Ev on January 24, 2016, 12:16 PM
Well, this is totally a crazy thought and clearly there are oodles of example books where the animal has a pet animal. But. Is this idea not a bit reminiscent of slavery? (Pets are definitely in a subservient position.) Especially, when Kell mentioned dogs and cats having dogs and cats as pets.

As I said, it's obviously a far out idea, but if it occurred to me, then it might occur to someone else. And in today's culture, where it's easy to unintentionally step on someone's toes, it might be a good idea to avoid the possibility.

Just a thought.
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: Margaret G on January 26, 2016, 08:48 AM
Thank you all for your comments! You've given me plenty of food for thought to help me figure out my story.
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: Tammi on January 26, 2016, 11:43 AM
Wooby & Peep by Cynthea Liu
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: Margaret G on January 27, 2016, 08:38 PM
Good one! Thank you, Tammi!
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: nilaffle on January 28, 2016, 12:46 AM
Quote
Well, this is totally a crazy thought and clearly there are oodles of example books where the animal has a pet animal. But. Is this idea not a bit reminiscent of slavery? (Pets are definitely in a subservient position.) Especially, when Kell mentioned dogs and cats having dogs and cats as pets.

As I said, it's obviously a far out idea, but if it occurred to me, then it might occur to someone else. And in today's culture, where it's easy to unintentionally step on someone's toes, it might be a good idea to avoid the possibility.

Just a thought.

Hey Ev, that's an interesting theoretical question, but I'd be more concerned with how dehumanizing it is for the subjugation of actual human beings to be compared to fictional animals. Slavery is not the same thing as owning a pet.
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: Ev on January 28, 2016, 05:52 AM
I totally agree, Nilah. And as I said, my thought was a far out one. (In fact, I was debating last night about removing my post.)

But if animals are being stand-ins for humans in a book, why would the animals who are pets be different from the main characters (i.e., why would the reader not consider them also stand-ins)?

Animals (birds) in cages, animals on leashes, animals eating food from bowls on the floor, .... definitely pretty horrible if those are stand-ins.

I still believe, in today's culture, it wouldn't be unheard of for someone to take offense. And just personally, as an author, I would think long and carefully about doing it.
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: nilaffle on January 28, 2016, 12:33 PM
My feeling here is that the only reason this question should come up is if there's confusion about what slavery is. So if it did come up, it'd be important to explain the nature of slavery versus pet ownership:

1) It sounds like in the OP's case, we're only talking about books in which the owner is an anthropomorphized animal, clearly a stand-in for a human being (I have heard of an upcoming picture book in which a pet wants to own a pet, but that's another story). In cases such as Arthur, the fact that they're animals doesn't even affect the story. They're treated as people. I get the concern here because sometimes it weirds me out too, but the difference is the nature of ownership and the level of sentience of the pet. Owners and pets in these examples may all be animals, but they're also clearly in different stages of evolution, and in most cases they're also different species (So are you saying that enslaved people are on a different evolutionary track than their owners? See the slippery slope here?). It's worth noting that while Mickey Mouse owns a dog, Goofy doesn't own a dog.

2) Pets, in general, are not oppressed (and to be clear, I'm not talking about animal cruelty, which is a real and separate issue). They do not perform intense physical, mental or emotional labor for their owners (I'll make allowance for livestock, barn cats, working dogs, etc. because they do perform labor, but should be noted that these are not always "pets"). They are not treated as financial assets. They do not have basic human rights withheld because they are not humans. They are animals. My cat, for instance, can't sit at a table and eat from a plate with a knife and fork because she doesn't have opposable thumbs. Their anatomy is also different, and it's much more natural for a cat to eat from the ground (which they have evolved to do) than upright at a table.

3) To expound on this, the relationship of pet and owner is often symbiotic. I receive benefits from owning a cat; companionship, stress relief, entertainment. My cat also receives benefits from me: companionship, food and shelter, healthcare, entertainment. Animals, too, form symbiotic relationships in the wild; wild animals (like birds and dolphins) even form symbiotic relationships with humans! This is still not the same thing as slavery.

4) Comparing slavery to pet ownership is like comparing human beings to animals. People of color have a long history of being considered less than human; this is a stigma that we're still fighting today. Associating slavery with pet ownership trivializes the real and damaging horror that is the human slave trade.

So, if anyone DOES have concerns about whether animals owning animals resembles slavery, these are things that should be considered. Pet ownership and slavery cannot, and should not be treated as equal. To do so is to imply that enslaved human beings are of lesser intelligence to their owners, and we don't want that!
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: Ev on January 28, 2016, 01:58 PM
Excellent points, Nilah. Thank you for taking the time to share such an insightful and thoughtful perspective on this.

Clearly, I should have deleted my original post last night as I was considering doing.

So are you saying that enslaved people are on a different evolutionary track than their owners?
...
To do so is to imply that enslaved human beings are of lesser intelligence to their owners

I certainly do not think either of these things and did not mean to imply either of them. My apologies if my innocent questions came across that way.
Title: Re: PB where an animal has a pet animal
Post by: nilaffle on January 28, 2016, 02:05 PM
Not at all, Ev. I'm actually glad you posted it because, like you said, if you're thinking about it, chances are someone else is too. And these are the questions we need to consider as kidlit writers, because our choices can have a lifelong impact on young minds.