• Animal protagonists in children’s literature

      Zito, Jessica (2018-05)
      Animal protagonists, although a rare sight in adult novels, have been a staple in the childhood literary canon for centuries. A majority of the all-time bestselling books for children in both early and middle childhood contain animal characters, with a large percentage containing at least one animal protagonist. This paper seeks to examine two research questions: 1) Why do authors prefer animal protagonists to human protagonists if the desired emotional connection is a human one? 2) What is the purpose of placing childhood themes in an animalized literary context? The paper provides a close reading of many popular children’s texts, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, They All Saw a Cat, Charlotte’s Web, The Pokey Little Puppy, Black Beauty, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and El Deafo, among many others. Books were chosen for analysis based on their embodiment of popular literary themes, as well as their general popularity, sales, and awards won. An effort was made to include popular books written during different time periods. The paper includes supporting research from published books, literary criticisms, websites, journal articles, and newspaper articles. Keywords: English, education, childhood education, early childhood education, animal protagonists, children’s literature, children’s books, animal stories, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant, They All Saw a Cat, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Frog and Toad Are Friends, Winnie-the-Pooh, Charlotte’s Web, Make Way for Ducklings, The Pokey Little Puppy, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Black Beauty, The Rainbow Fish, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, El Deafo, Arthur’s Nose