Monday, March 27, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 25: Dr. Mira Reisberg Explores Anthropomorphism

By Dr. Mira Reisberg

Most of you know what anthropomorphism is, but for those of you who don't, anthropomorphizing is when the author or illustrator uses animals to stand in for humans and gives them human-like qualities. Anthropomorphic characters are race neutral and sometimes gender neutral, can lighten heavy messages, and don’t need parents. Kids love animal stories. Editors and agents are always looking for something fresh and new. Here are some anthropomorphic stories with fresh protagonists, plus one fun anti-anthropomorphic story that I’ll start with.



Sparky by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans where a sloth stays true to its real sloth-like self despite the desperate entreaties of his owner. Hilarious!

Doreen Cronin’s Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Fly, and Diary of a Spider series all illustrated by Harry Bliss.

Emily Gravett’s wonderful Meerkat Mail and one of my all time faves, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber.




And of course Mo Willem’s enduring pigeon character in the Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus series are just a few. See if you can find an unusual character to tell your story as Miranda Paul does in her upcoming Blobfish Throws a Party!





Mira is donating a free course! The winner choice of a Hero's Art Journey or Scrivener course or Writing Wonderful Character Driven Picture Books. Each of these courses are an incredible way to take your mentor text studies to the next level! To be eligible, please comment on this post and make efforts to read mentor text regularly.



Dr. Mira Reisberg is an editor and art director and a former children’s literary agent. She’s also the director of the Children’s Book Academy and will be co-teaching an extraordinary interactive Mastering Middle Grade Writing and Illustrating e-course for complete beginners to award-winners with Hollins University prof. Hillary Homzie starting Mon April 3rd right here http://bit.ly/1RiHEqz Mira’s passions (obsessions) include kid’s books, helping others get published, being creative and creating community. Join her mailing list to get a wonderful resource for plotting picture books with underlying themes right here http://bit.ly/CBA-Tribe-SignUp




154 comments:

  1. Thank you Mira, I love your choice of mentor texts, and I'm definitely going to check out Sparky. Anthropomorphism gives us the freedom to have fun!

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  2. Excellent post Mira. Really enjoyed reading the mentor texts. Thanks.

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  3. Great examples of anthropomorphism. Can't wait to read Miranda's forthcoming book. Thanks, Mira!

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  4. Wonderful books, Mira! I just love a good anthropomorphic character for all the reasons you state... they can allow any child to slip into their world with ease. (My favourite may be Epossumondas).

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  5. Sloths and Meerkats! Two of my daughters' favorite animals. I can't wait to check these books out for them, while also improving my craft!

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  6. Great picks, Mira! These all read so seamlessly. Truly the mark of a well written story, though certainly not easy to write. Eager to get a hold of Mirada's new book!

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  7. Thank you for your post, Mira. These are great examples.

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  8. Those are great reasons to use anthropomorphic characters. Thanks!

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  9. Great choices to demonstrate anthropomorphism. I loved Diary of a Worm - what a clever way to present the story! Liz Tipping

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  10. I think it's every kids dream (maybe mine as well) to meet an animal that talks and books like these fulfill a piece of that magic. Some of my favorite books have animal characters which is probably why I'm drawn to use them as mc's in my own books. Thanks, Mira!

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  11. It's springtime in the midwest... which means the k-3rd grade students are meowing and barking outside at recess. I know I believed I was an animal and most PB readers do! I <3 anthropomorphic stories! Thanks for sharing your selections w/us!

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  12. Mira, I love these books, and have read all but one. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Your choices are some of my favorite books. My grandkids have Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus memorized, with feeling, words for word.

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  15. Dr. Mira, good to be with you again. I tend write animal stories and I love th eons yo mentioned. I have yet to read Miranda's blobfish. So I'll swim over to my library to get it. TY.

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  16. Thanks for the great reminder as to why animals may be a better choice for some stories! I hope you're doing well, Mira! Take care!

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  17. Thank you for your post. Anthropomorphism is a good way to add zest to a kid favorite. Your choices are a great reminder of this! Again, thanks. Carole Calladine

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  18. Wonderful examples, Mira! Thank you for your post. I never read Meerkat Mail and I look forward to picking that one up as well.

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  19. Love animal stories and your recommendations. Thanks, Mira.

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  20. Hi Mira, thanks for this great post. These mentor texts will really help as I craft an animal story that has been in my head for a very long time! :)

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  21. Wonderful selection of mentor texts. SPARKY! and DIARY OF A WORM are hilarious. I can't wait to read BLOBFISH.

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  22. Sparky was hilarious. Thank you for the recommendation!

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  23. Wonderful mentor text suggestions, Mira, and great reminder that using animals is race neutral & is a way to address difficult topics.

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  24. Hi, Mira! Thanks for sharing these great anthropomorphic characters. Sparky is one of my mentor text.

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  25. A crocodile, meerkat, and blobfish oh my! With anthropomorphic characters come awesome possibilities in stories! Thank you, Mira, for this enticing list.

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  26. Lyle was a childhood fav of mine, too! Love these fun books, and I can't wait for Miranda's new one!

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  27. I love animals that are animals in very way but verbsally expressing feelings. These are great.

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  28. Those were great choices, Mira. Your opinion is always valuable to all kid lit authors. - Alice Fulgione

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  29. Terrific examples, thank you! Kids do love animals:)

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  30. Hi Mira, Doreen Cronin’s 'Diary' books had me in stitches. She is so clever weaving in puns and the zippy cartoons by Harry Bliss make the stories great page-turners. Thanks for sharing.

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  31. At our public library, these mentor texts are always checked out which is a good indicator of how well they are liked. Thank you Mira for the encouragement to keep these anthropomorphic stories coming!

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  32. I'm fond of animal characters both in fiction and nonfiction. Thanks for your terrific list of books to check out, Mira!

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  33. Thank you for these examples, Mira.

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  34. Great examples Mira! And such a generous prize donation.. Thanks for all you do for the KidLit community.

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  35. All wonderful examples of anthropomorphism.

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  36. These are great examples, Mira -- thanks for reminding us of the varied ways animals can become a reader's best friend.

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  37. Animals hold an universal appeal to children. Thanks for your recommendations!

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  38. I love anthropomorphism and anti-anthropomorphism—fuzzy faces get me just about every time. Good list of books. It's been a while since I've read Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, so I'm going to revisit it now. Thanks!

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  39. Thank you, Mira. I enjoyed the mentor texts, especially sparky which is, I think, anthropomorphism with a twist. :)

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  40. Kids do love animal books and they are a wonderful way to grab attention and they allow us to address sensitive issues. Thanks so much, Mira. I have NOT read most of these...so I appreciate your mentioning them...and someone is going to be EXTREMELY fortunate to get a seat in one of your classes. ;)

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  41. That gives me hope for all my talking animal stories:> Thank you, Mira!!

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  42. Sparky! is one of my favorites. I'm heading to the library now to check out the ones I haven't read yet. I've been working on my first anthropomorphic story. Thanks for these amazing mentor texts, Mira!

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  43. I love these books! Lately I've been attracted to animal characters, and you have shared a few of the reasons they are appealing. Thank you!

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  44. Great books! Great Prize! Thank you!

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  45. I loved your list. Thank you. (I can't wait to read Blobfish!) The veil is thin between animal characters and ourselves, but I think that extra magic is what makes us love them.

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  46. Thank you MIra, for an AMAZING post!!! We're blessed to have you as an author educator!

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  47. Love the list! Looking forward to reading them.

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  48. Thank you Mira. Wonderful choices for mentor texts!

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  49. Thank you for some super selections.

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  50. Thanks so much for theses suggestions. Animal main characters are a favorite in our house!

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  51. These are fun books. We love our anthropomorphised characters around here. :)

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  52. I love anthropomorphised characters! Thanks for the list of suggestions.

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  53. I have loved anthropomorphic stories since childhood. They continue to be among my favorites, so I look forward to reading your suggestions. Thanks for the great post!

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  54. Hi Mira, Anthropomorphized characters can be so much fun. Children love them, and adults, too. I can't wait to read Miranda's Blobfish story--I love everything she writes.
    Thanks for sharing this list--and see you next week for your MG class--can't wait!

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  55. I enjoyed using Cronin's books in my classroom. There was so much info presented in ways to captivate my students. I just love Sparky and will need to obtain my own copy. Such a wonderful book!Thanks for the suggestions.

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  56. Wonderful examples! I've been thinking a lot about anthropomorphism lately.

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  57. Excellent examples! Thank you Dr. Mira!

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  58. What a word...anthropomorphism! It and the use of onomatopoeia are my favorite in PBs. Thanks for the great mentor texts to study today, Mira. You are a jewel!

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  59. Thank you, Mira! I'm always conflicted when I see the pie charts about PB characters and I see how many are animals as opposed to POC. But, I really see the need for animals to stand in place of children with deep and sometimes hurtful experiences. Animals give just the right amount of distance between the issue and the person.

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  60. Thank you for your post, Mira. I enjoyed studying your mentor text choices.

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  61. SO true - these are some of my kids' favorite stories. I have a hard time writing animal characters so thank you for these mentor texts to hopefully gain some insights.

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  62. Great examples. Some are just fun and others pack a message.

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  63. Many of my stories are written this way. Thanks for your post Mira.

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  64. I loved anthropomorphic characters as a child, and much of my writing is anthropomorphic. Thanks for the great list!

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  65. Thank you, Mira, as always, for all you do!

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  66. Of course, Mira chose some of the most WONDERFUL examples of anthropomorphism! I feel it's a great way to give children a bit of distance from difficult subjects. It's interesting to me, how children can so readily accept an animal riding a bike, for example, or experiencing a first day at school. Thank you so much, Mira, for the post and the super generous prize offer!!

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  67. Thanks, Mira, for these great examples and generously offering a fabulous prize.

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  68. Great idea, Mira! I'm looking forward to reading these with anthropomorphism in mind...

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  69. Thanks, Mira, for this fantastic list. I love Emily Gravett's stories and haven't read Meercat Mail yet so I definitely need to get my hands on that one!

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  70. Love these recs! Have to check out the one's I haven't read, yet, Meerkat Mail and Miranda's Blobfish. I love the way Sparky! ends, and the exclamation in the title. So, so perfect.

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  71. I love "Sparky" more each time I reread it, and can't wait to get "Blobfish" from the library. Thanks for this fantastic list!

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  72. I enjoyed reading the books that were available. I"m working on an animal character book right now, and showing emotion is paramount.thanks Mira for this post.

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  73. Diary of a Worm is one of my favorites. Looking forward to reading the others. Thank you.

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  74. I love Sparky! Lyle is an old favorite, and Pigeon a new one. Thanks for the great list, Mira!

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  75. Thank you Mira. Great choice of mentor text and picture books.

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  76. Thank you for contributing this fun list of anthropomorphic characters to our research reading! What fun!
    Susan

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  77. Perfect mentor texts, Mira. Thank you!

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  78. Love your picks, Mira! Looking forward to reading the two I haven't read - Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile and Blobfish Throws a Party.

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  79. I loved anthropomorphic characters in books as a child and I still love them. Thanks for the awesome mentor text examples that show some unusual animal protagonists.

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  80. Thank you, Mira, for these anthropomorphic book titles. I have read them all and derived delicious pleasure. You introduced me to the world of PB's and I thank you for offering classes through Children's Book Academy :)

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  81. Love this post! I'm using Sparky as a mentor text right now :-)

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  82. Thanks, Mira, for this reminder post about these titles! I agree that using these kinds of characters really does make the point of the story more accessible sometimes.

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  83. Those are good unique animals, too. (Well, except pigeon!)

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  84. Kids are wired to see the world through many different eyes -- even canine, feline, equine or crocodilean! It's an ability I wish we could keep into old age.

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  85. Mira, these were fabulous examples! Thank for your post and insight.

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  86. These are wonderful examples. I can't wait to read Miranda's Blobfish book!

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  87. Thank you for this selection. I love Sparky.

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  88. I love anthropomorphic characters. They are high on my list of choices, especially that they are race neutral, and sometimes gender neutral. Thanks for the examples.

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  89. Mira has listed some great books and reasons why anthropomorphism can work well for picture books.

    So often we hear that certain publishers don't want stories with anthropomorphism, but that's not necessarily true. I guess it's like the "no rhyming texts please" posts. It's not that publishers don't want, they just want GOOD ONES.

    Speaking of good ones, I was lucky enough to get the sneak preview of Miranda's "Blobfish Throws a Party" and it is hilarious and heart-warming and happy!!! And I've always liked "Meerkat Mail".

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  90. I love anthropomorphic characters, too! Loved the selections. Especially loved Sparky! Thanks for sharing.

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  91. Thank you Mira for explaining this further and listing some wonderful examples.

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  92. I've read all but one of these, but I'm looking forward to re-reading a few with a new perspective. Thanks for the suggestions!

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  93. I have to admit it, writing through Anthropomorphism is my strong point, so I am LOVING this post. I know it's been done through and through, and I've tried to break away from it, but Anthropomorphism just keeps making it's way back into my stories. I know what it is: It's the animal lover and animal advocate in me. Personally, I feel that giving animals human characteristics helps the child (and adult) reader empathize with animals, and I think that a world in which we encourage children to respect all living things (especially animals) is one we will all want to live in.

    Great comp titles! And that last line of SPARKY - talk about pulling on a pet lover's heart strings! :)

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  94. Thank you for the great examples! I'm eager to read Blobfish and re-read the ones I've read already to use as mentor texts!

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  95. What a great topic! I think children really enjoy the humor of anthropomorphized animal characters doing things their animal would never do--like a worm writing a journal--and doing things a human would never do--like the worm Dad eating the newspaper.

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  96. Thanks for these inspiring examples; I have enjoyed some of these and look forward to reading the rest!

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  97. Thanks for pointing out that anthropomorphism includes gender neutrality and most of the time, no parents. I had a general idea of what it was, but this part is new to me. P.S. I love Sparky and look forward to reading Meerkat Mail.

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  98. Thanks for your fun reading choices. I will have to check out Lyle, Lyle Crocodile--haven't read that in a long time. I cannot wait for Blobfish Throws a Party--looks hilarious!

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  99. Thank you for your suggestions. Diary of a Worm is a fun one!

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  100. Thanks for the suggestions. Looking forward to checking out Meerkat Mail!

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  101. Thank you for this list Mira. I'll be checking them out. I love animal stories and these look very appealing.

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  102. Dr. Mira: You are appreciated. Kids love books about anthropomorphism and so do I. Thank you for some excellent book titles.
    ~Suzy Leopold

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  103. Mira,lovely book choices. Thanks for great give away.

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  104. MIRA: THANK YOU for the insight into animal characters with no specified gender. I hadn't considered this side of anthropomorphism before.

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  105. I've written several of these so far this year. Animals are so endearing, and perfect devices for storytelling, for the reasons you mentioned! Lyle is a favorite from my childhood, joined recently by Sparky and Blobfish. Thanks for sharing these suggestions with us, and for reflecting with us on how they can help us tell our stories!

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  106. I loved reading Sparky and seeing how these authors created unusual animal characters.

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  107. Thanks for your post! I agree with your statement that animal characters can be race neutral, gender neutral, parent-free and can lighten heavy messages. I enjoyed reading the books you chose!

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  108. great mentor text examples, thank you! (Carrie if I posted twice, I apologize- been having computer troubles)

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  109. Using anthropomorphized animals is a great way to address tough and sensitive subjects with children. This is a great list of mentor texts.

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  110. Mira – thanks for an excellent post and fabulous mentor texts. I am working on a PB manuscript with an animal main character so the timing is perfect! And for anyone considering one of Mira’s courses – run, don't walk, to sign up!!

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  111. I love anthropomorphic animals! As an illustrator it feels awkward to draw a naked pig if he's standing on 2 legs! haha Thank you for the opportunity to win a class with Mira. :)

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  112. Great additions to the anthropomorphic list. Thanks, Mira!

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  113. Great points about the power of anthropomorphism, Mira! Thanks very much. It's great food for thought re: my current writing project. ;-)

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  114. I loved Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. Will be adding the other books to my list to read. Thanks for sharing.

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  115. I love the idea of a gender neutral main character. It is hard to pull off.

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  116. Ha! I never thought of Sparky as anti-anthropomorphic, but it totally is! Thinking of the story in that way ignites my creativity and makes me want to exercise that concept in my own writing. How fun! Thank you for the list, Mira. Excellent!

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  117. Great points (and PBs) regarding anthropomorphism. Thank you so much for the post!

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  118. How have I never read Flight School?!? It looks amazing! Thanks so much for the list!

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  119. Oh, I love all of these!! They are so much fun. I think I`m going to try writing a story with an animal MC next!

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  120. Great book recommendations and great prizes! Thank YOU!

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  121. Terrific post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on anthropomorphism. Kids have always liked talking animals but it seems as if publishers tend to go in a cycle…now they are in, now they are out. These are great mentor texts and I’m looking forward to reading Sparky and Meerkat Mail!

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  122. Thanks, Mira, for a fun post and your generosity!

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  123. As always, your insight into picture books is invaluable, Mira. I love Sparky, Lyle, Worm, Spider and Pigeon. Can't decide if Sparky or Pigeon is my favorite. Kids love saying "No!" to Pigeon, and I love that. I'll have to check out the other three.

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  124. Love your chosen texts. All of them crafted anthropomorphism so well! Thanks for your thoughts and insight on the subject.

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  125. Love Sparky! Love the worm's diary (and spider's diary...) and Meerkats... These are so fun, and wonderful mentor texts.

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  126. Thank you for the post. I love anthropomorphism.

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  127. Great mentor texts. Thanks for sharing!

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  128. Thanks for the post. Much to think about.

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  129. Thank you Mira, for introducing me to some new anthropomorphic picture books. Love using animals in my books!

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  130. Sparky is one of my new favorites. Thanks for the list!

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  131. I love your examples of anthropomorphism! Can't wait to read about a Blobfish. :)

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  132. Wonderful recommendations. Thank you, Mira! Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is an all time favorite.

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  133. It's so helpful to see how showing a story arc with an anthropomorphic character can allow the message(s) to reach a deeper and more meaningful level while remaining open to readers of all backgrounds. Thanks for the super-helpful reminder and for making great mentor text recommendations!

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  134. Love all these books.
    Another great post.

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  135. Thank you for these wonderful suggestions.

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  136. I super love the books on this list, Mira! Thanks!!

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  137. Super list Mira... I love animal books more than my kids do I think (which is a lot). Great recommendations!

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  138. Thank you! It was fun re-reading Lyle, Lyle (a childhood favorite of mine) as an adult!

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  139. Thank you for this post. I've read half of your recommendations and look forward to reading the other half!

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  140. Kids aren't the only ones who enjoy animal stories! ;) Thanks for such clever examples.

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