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SOUNDER by W.H.Armstrong : Published by Penguin Group 1969 

This is not a happy story but one that relates the harsh realities of life in the American South. Three white men accuse the Negro father of stealing a pig and take him roughly off to jail leaving the wife and young children with little livelihood in the middle of winter.  The mongrel dog, Sounder, was shot trying to defend his master and disappeared.  One day the badly crippled dog returned. The family survive and the eldest boy finds work.  He tries to find where his father is working as a convict.  He educates himself and is finally taken in by a teacher.  Then the father comes home – also crippled by a dynamite explosion. 
This is a tragic tale which will be enjoyed by older readers. 

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ISBN 0-14-030594-7
SHILOH by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor : Published by Pan Macmillan Children’s Books 1994. 

This is a delightful story of an eleven year old boy’s determination and courage to rescue a puppy he so desperately wants from a cruel and abusive owner.   Suitable for Grade 5.

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ISBN 0-330-32918-9
BEN’S BUDDY by Brenda Munitich: Published by De Jager-Haum 1987. 

 Ben and his twin brother live on a Karroo sheep farm.  Their mother has died in a tragic accident and the grief stricken father is very strict with the boys and seemingly very lacking in understanding.  Ben is unable to speak properly.  This is a good adventure story set on a South African farm. It also explores the world of a sensitive handicapped child.   Grade 4 / 5. 

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ISBN 0 7986 0670 3

THE HOUSE OF SECRETS – BRAN’S SECRET by Joyce Stranger : Published by Lions 1994. 

This is a particularly good story for Grade 4s and 5s. Bran, son of a busy suburban vet, longs for a dog of his own.  His sister wishes to be a showjumper and his brother wants a pig!  The parents are busy making ends meet and Gran sees to the housework and cooking.  Then one day while on the rounds with his dad, Bran discovers a beautiful old house with a FOR SALE sign – but it seems everyone is too busy to buy it!

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There are two other books in this series : GEORGIE’S SECRET and LIAM’S SECRET.

ISBN 0 00 674831 7

SHADOW THE SHEEPDOG by Enid Blyton: Published by William Collins Sons & Co.LTD , London 1984. 

Johnny always longed for his own dog.  One of the farm’s sheepdogs has 3 puppies and he tries desperately to keep one – the naughtiest whom he named Shadow.  The pups are however sold but Shadow keeps finding a way to get home. Finally Johnny gets his own dog.

Shadow has to learn how to become a sheep dog. He finds life hard but is clever and learns fast. He naturally grows up to be a champion – and a courageous one at that. A lovely story for younger readers in the true Blyton mould.       

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 ISBN 0-00-692304–6

FIND THE WHITE HORSE by Dick King-Smith : Published by the Penguin Group London 1991. 

This is a wonderful, warm, funny and exciting story of the journey undertaken by Lubber – a lazy and easygoing dog, Squintum – a sharp-witted Siamese cat and Katie – a racing pigeon who has lost her sense of direction, to find Lubber’s home.  All he can remember is that he lives in a cottage below a hillside on which is carved a white horse.   Grade 5/6

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ISBN 0-14-034415-2.

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY by Sheila Burnford : Published by Hodder & Stoughton London, 1961.

Three animals Luath, a gentle young golden Labrador, Tao, a simese cat and Bodger, an old Bull Terrier are ” boarded out” with a young man.  When he goes off on a brief trip, the animals decide to find their old family.  This involves an incredible journey across 200 miles of the wildest part of Canada.  A wonderful story. Grade 6/7

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JUST NUISANCE AB by Terence Sisson: Published by W.J.Flesch & Partners (PTY) Ltd. Cape Town 1985   

This is the “ biography “ of the famous Great Dane who was formally inducted into the Royal Navy at Simonstown during World War 11. Simonstown still honours his life with a statue on Jublilee Square.  A rather ponderous book, it will appeal to stronger readers.

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ISBN 9 780949 989383

MY LIFE IN DOG YEARS by Gary Paulsen : Published by Bantam Doubleday Dell USA 1998.

Gary Paulsen has always loved dogs. In this book he writes about some of the clever, amusing and faithful dogs he has known.  He has also written exciting stories about his life as a sledder in Alaska namely  ICE RACE and DOG SONG.

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Also by this author: ICE RACE and DOG SONG.

ISBN 0 330 37275 0

KINGDOM BY THE SEA by Robert Westall : Published by    

An excellent book set in World War 11.  Harry’s house is bombed and he is the only survivor.  He does not want to go to his relatives so he finds himself on the run.  He soon meets a dog who like himself is a survivor and the have many interesting adventures together. The people he meets are his greatest danger.  Grade 6/7 

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THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London : Published byThe Penguin Group England 1903.  

Don’t be put off by the age of this book. The story of a dog’s fight for survival in the frozen Yukon is one of the greatest animal stories ever written .  It tells of a dog born to luxury but stolen and sold as a sledge dog.   He overcomes huge obstacles and becomes one of the most admired and feared dogs in the country.  A must read for older readers. 

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Another great read by Jack London is WHITE FANG.

ISBN 0-14-035000

SCRUB DOG OF ALASKA by Walt Morey : Published by Sidgwick and Jackson Ltd. Great Britain. 1975. 

Set in harsh Alaska , this is a wonderful , moving story of “ Scrub “ the weak runt of the litter who is cruelly forced out to fend for himself.  He was found by Dave and developed into fine sled – dog.   

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ISBN0 283 98150 4

TRAVELLER by Anne De Roo :  First published by Puffin Books England 1979.  

I really enjoyed this book . Tom goes out to New Zealand at 16 years to work on a sheep ranch. Set in the pioneering 1850 s and based on a true story, it tells of the hardships suffered by the early settlers, of the difficulties of the early sheep farmers and of enduring loyalties between man and dog.  Tom’s life is saved by a remarkable sheep dog  who becomes a devoted companion.  Grade 6/7.

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ISBN 0 14 031311 7

THE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIONS by Dodie  Smith : First published by W Heinemann Ltd Great Britain 1956. 

When their 15 Dalmatian puppies  disappear , their parents know immediately Cruella de Ville is responsible in her quest for making fur coats. The dogs set out to find their  offspring , helped by other dogs across the country, soon discovering that many more little Dalmatians  ‘ are threatened.  A wonderful animal  adventure which has been made into a successful film.

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CHARLOTTE”S WEB by E.B. White published by Hamish Hamilton Great Britain 1952.  

A wonderful story for young children – probably more for girls as it has a gentle dreamlike feel.  A good “read to “ book as the vocabulary is sometimes quite grown up.  Fern loved the little pig she was allowed to rear until he was sold to the farmer next door.  She visits the barn daily.  Wilbur, the little pig is then saved from becoming Christmas dinner by Charlotte, a large spider and Templeton, the rat. 

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E.B. White also wrote STUART LITTLE which has recently been made into a successful film.

ISBN  241 90098 0

THE SHEEP- PIG by Dick King- Smith .Published by  Penguin Group London, 1983.  

This book has also been made into a film called Babe. A thrilling , funny , charming story of Babe , the piglet , fostered by Fly , the sheepdog. Babe becomes a sheep herder himself!!   

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Also by D.King- Smith  are  SADDLEBOTTOM and ACE.


ISBN 0-14-031839-9


Some super clever rats from a laboratory rescue Timothy ‘ s home in a field and then gets rescued themselves. There are sequels by his daughter Jane Conly. For Grade 4.  

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HOUSE OF RATS  by Stephen Elboz : 

A strange novel about 4 children who live in a very ordered, mysterious home.   Suddenly everything changes.  With lovely vivid characters, it is warm and witty but cruelty, fear and danger are evident.  


BLITZCAT by Robert Westall : Published by Macmillan’s Children’s books 1989.  

Based on true facts, this is an excellent story of a remarkable cat who during the war is separated from her owner and who travels far and wide in search of his former home.  The problem is that England is being blitzed during World War 11 and the black cat seems to be lucky, for every where she went, she changed lives.  Grade 7/6    

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ISBN 0-330-31040-2
SIZE TWELVE by R Westall is another story for younger readers.  The Valley Road Primary School is in dire need of a face lift.  The pupils are unruly and the teachers desperate. Then a large black cat arrives and everything changes. A simple but thought provoking story.

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THE  MIDNIGHT FOX by Betsy Byars Faber & Faber Great Britain 1970  

Tom really didn’t want to go and stay on the farm with his aunt and uncle.  But when he saw the black fox, his attitude changes and he spends his time happily searching for the fox and his lair.  Then danger threatens the fox and her cub. Tom is the only one who can save them. An interesting story where a child is at odds with his elders.

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ISBN 0 435 12269

THE JUNGLE BOOK by Rudyard Kipling : Published by Brimax Books 1991 ( first published in 1894)  

This is the story of Mowgli , the boy adopted by a family of wolves and brought up in the Indian jungle.

Also other wonderful tales – Kotick, the white seal who finds a safe place to live and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the red – eyed mongoose who protects his family from 2 cobras and Toomai , the Indian boy who witnesses the magical dance of the elephants.

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ISBN 0 86112 750 1

HARRY'S MAD by Dick King – Smith. Published by Victor Gollancz Ltd London 1886 

Harry Holdsworth hears with dismay that he has inherited his great uncle’s African Grey Parrot named Madison.  BUT Harry soon finds that he has a marvelous friend. Then “ Mad “ is stolen. Read this wonderful story and enjoy the adventures of the clever parrot and the unexpected twist at the end .  It is witty , clever and delightful.  Definitely my favourite story.

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ISBN 0 – 575 – 03497 – 1

SUNNY BELL and the SHRIMP STREET GANG by IRIS BEGG. Published by George Harrap & Co. London 1962.  A very enjoyable and lively story. The Bells win a puppy in a competition. He befriends the neighbour, Jimmy and his beetle.   The cats in the neighbourhood are called the Shrimp Street Gang who make life very uncomfortable for Sunny. He and Jimmy run away, rescue Alfred the Great and then do battle with the horrible cats.  Grade 4/5.  


THE CAT THAT WALKED A WEEK by MEINERT DEJONG, Published byLutterworth Press London, 1965.   A little boy and his white cat lived and played in a flat at the top of a tall building. Then one day the cat is taken away by some cruel neighbours,  who took him into the country and left him to drown. He didn’t drown. With the help of various people he manages to find his way back to his home.  Beautifully told, one really feels exactly how the cat is thinking and reacting to his situation.   Grade 4/5

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ISBN 0 7188 0142 3

YAXLEY’S CAT by Robert Westall.  Published by Macmillan’s Children’s Books, U K. 1991.

This is more of a scary adventure story than a cat story although a cat does feature in this exciting read. Rose and her two children find a remote little cottage in the marshes of Norfolk. It seemed a perfect venue for a holiday adventure. They soon find themselves involved in a sinister place where unfriendly people to hide some long buried secret and their lives are endangered.   Grade 6/7

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ISBN 0 330 32499 3

THE BUSH SHRIKE by Marguerite Poland. Published by Raven Press (PTY) Ltd. Johannesburg. 1982.  Annie lives on a remote windy farm near the sea. That summer she befriends Josh, a lonely boy, who knew the beach bush country and its wild life better than she did. It was also the summer that the racehorse came to be trained on the farm next door. This is a story of children growing up and experiencing great changes in their lives. A very enjoyable story with a rather powerful message at the end.

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 ISBN 0 86975 227 8

NO TIME LIKE SHOW TIME by Michael Hoeye published by Penguin England 2004. 

This is a Hermux Tantamog adventure story.  Hermux is a mouse who fixes clocks.  He becomes embroiled in an exciting investigative adventure when the impresario of the local theatre requests his help urgently.  I am not always very fond of talking animal stories but this one makes one feels they are taking off real people. There is perception, history, and a good understanding of human nature. A fun read for Grades 5–7

  ISBN 0-141-31567-9