In the comments on my post about The Art of Racing in the Rain, Bee asked whether part of my problem with that book was because it was narrated by an animal. Very good question! I definitely do have issues with talking animals in books. I realize that an animal narrator is not the same as a talking animal, but this is a pet peeve of mine, so here you go.
Talking animals for the most part means children’s books, and that’s the first obstacle. I know there is a whole world of adult book bloggers who read tons of YA and kids’ books, and write serious reviews. Not I! I can barely bring myself to read along with my own bookworm daughter, even when she begs me to read her latest favorite so we can discuss it. So that automatically cuts out a whole bunch of talking animal books. But even when I was a kid myself, I did not like talking animals. And especially not talking stuffed animals. No Winnie the Pooh for me, thanks. Wind in the Willows, Paddington Bear, Watership Down, I’m running out of examples but you get the idea. Ugh.
If there is a REASON why the animals can talk? If the author ACKNOWLEDGES the fact that animals don’t usually talk? If they interact with humans and it is a THING? Then we are in a completely different ball park. I can think of 3 awesome books that meet this requirement. Two are even kids’ books!
1. The Narnia books. Ok, the reason they talk is that Aslan, aka God, gave them the ability to talk. Not exactly a scientific reason, but that’s ok. It is still an acknowledged reason. The animals talk to humans, and it is unexpected, and it is a thing that they talk. So that is fine with me. Plus there are a million other reasons to love the Narnia books. It’s all good.
2. Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. One of my all time favorite kids’ books. Yes they talk. Yes it is a thing. Yes there is an actual scientific explanation. This book is awesome and I have reread it many times, despite what I said about not liking kids’ books.
3. The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll. The talking animals in this case are dogs — two “hilariously slanty-eyed” bull terriers, to be precise. This is the only adult fiction I can think of with talking animals, and they are not main characters. However they are brilliant. The book is brilliant. Weird, but brilliant. And oh man is it a thing that they talk. If anyone else has read this book please let me know. I want to discuss it!