A Horse Called Hero

On the brink of World War II, a family forced out of their London home flees to the country. Wolfie and his older sister Dodo are devastated to leave behind everything they’ve ever known, but they begin settling into their new life.One day, they come across an orphaned fowl, which they raise as Hero, a strong and beautiful horse who lives up to his name when he saves the children from a fire.Wolfie and Dodo find comfort in their new life, but the war is escalating quickly and horses are needed for combat. One night, Hero is stolen, and the children are shattered. Years then pass without any indication Hero will return. It’s only when Wolfie becomes a stable hand that he discovers Hero has ended up working in the mines under terrible conditions. Then and there, Wolfie resolves to save Hero, a plan that places both of their lives in jeopardy. Together again, can they will survive?

Jasper’s Story

Jasper is a moon bear who was held in a cage by bear farmers in rural China. The farmers extracted the bile from Jasper’s body and sold it to be used in traditional medicines.Despite how badly he was treated, Jasper was able to slowly recover, forgive, and trust humans. With each new bear who arrives in the sanctuary, Jasper becomes a friend, letting them know that they are in a place where healing will begin.

It’s Our Nature

Believing that animals have feelings, Orozco suggests that humans could learn how to live more harmoniously by looking at how various creatures behave. She gives 10 examples of how specific animals demonstrate tolerance, responsibility, generosity, community, communication, trust, commitment, altruism, and brotherhood. For instance, female elephants generously nurse and protect younger elephants even if the babies are not their own. Wildebeests tolerate zebras that mix in with their herds for protection from predators. Other animals represented include the howler monkey, flamingo, dolphin, armadillo, crocodile, octopus, penguin, and wolf. Each behavior is explained on a spread, accompanied by a simple illustration. Introduces children to different traits that contribute to congenial living and is appropriate for group sharing or individual browsing and emphasizes humans learning from animal behaviors.

An Elephant in the Garden

Lizzie and Karl’s mother is a zoo keeper; the family has become attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene, who will be destroyed as a precautionary measure so she and the other animals don’t run wild should the zoo be hit by bombs. The family persuades the zoo director to let Marlene stay in their garden instead. When the city is bombed, the family flees with thousands of others, but how can they walk the same route when they have an elephant in tow, and keep themselves safe? Along the way, they meet Peter, a Canadian navigator who risks his own capture to save the family. As Michael Morpurgo writes in an author’s note, An Elephant in the Garden is inspired by historical truths, and by his admiration for elephants, “the noblest and wisest and most sensitive of all creatures.” Here is a story that brings together an unlikely group of survivors whose faith in kindness and love proves the best weapon of all.

Sita’s Ramayana

This version of The Ramayana is told from the perspective of Sita, the queen. After she, her husband Rama and his brother are exiled from their kingdom, Sita is captured by the proud and arrogant king Ravana and imprisoned in a garden across the ocean. Ravana never stops trying to convince Sita to be his wife, but she steadfastly refuses his advances. Eventually Rama comes to her rescue with the help of the monkey Hanuman and his army. But Rama feels he can’t trust Sita again. He forces Sita to undergo an ordeal by fire to prove herself to be true and pure. She is shocked and in grief and anger does so. She emerges unscathed and they return home to their kingdom as king and queen. However, suspicion haunts their relationship, and Sita once more finds herself in the forest, but this time she is pregnant. She has twins and continues to live in the forest with them.

Nicolas, Where Have You Been?

When the young mouse Nicolas sets out across the great meadow alone in search of ripe red berries, he is grabbed up by the claws of a huge bird and carried high into the sky. But that is only the beginning of Nicolas’s adventure. How he gets the berries he was hoping to find, and learns to trust the very creatures he thought were his enemies, makes this Leo Lionni fable one that young children will want to hear again and again.