View Full Version : Using Animal Characters

C. L. Richardson
12-28-2006, 01:03 AM
I'm writing for the teens and young adults group and my characters are all African animals. No humans. I guess you could call my genre "Christian Animal Fiction".

My first question is, do you know of any published authors who write this kind of story? I haven't been able to find one.

My second question is, how do you feel about animals as Christian characters? Obviously real animals cannot choose to follow God or deny Him because they lack the kind of knowledge we have as humans made in His image. Would it be wrong or "weird" to personify animals in Christian fiction?

Thanks in advance for your input.

12-28-2006, 01:22 AM
Have you read Brian Jacques' Redwall series? It's not explicitly Christian, but there's somewhat a Christian cultural feel to it, especially in the early books.

I don't think personifying animals as characters is any different from using any other characters that don't exist in the real world (elves or aliens or whatnot) -- most likely not problematic, unless there's something else in how they're handled that introduces problems.

12-28-2006, 01:30 AM
Casting swine as pearls?

Could work out...

Alex Bravo
12-28-2006, 05:26 AM
Annie is right. You should check out the Redwall series. It has many books and a Christian feel to it.

Although more secular, Watership Down, by Richard Adams, is another good animal novel.

12-28-2006, 06:37 AM
Well, I seem to recall that the Chronicles of Narnia are rather Christian. ;)

The only way I can see that you could even have an interesting Christian novel with an animal-only cast would be to personify them. After all, real animals have no conflict with God, He's just there, like air is for a bird or water is for a fish. No conflict=no story. Personifying them would turn them into people who could doubt, experience temptation, sin, gain faith and be reborn.

As to whether a publisher would take it, I have to admit, I don't know anything about the publishers for this genre. I don't see why not, however, since there's already a pretty good precedent.

Mac H.
12-28-2006, 08:50 AM
Is it just me who remembers the 'Jungle Doctor' books?

Apart from the stories of life on the mission, there were plenty that were basically parables told entirely with African Animals.

eg: http://www.amazon.com/Jungle-Doctor-Fables-Collection/dp/1850782679

They were made into a series of very popular comic books too: http://www.christiancomicsinternational.org/series_jungdoc.html

Actually, after googling it seems they were more popular here in Australia than the USA. The comic books alone sold more than 1/2 million copies in Australia ... which has a population of only 20 million.

Good luck,


Roger J Carlson
12-28-2006, 06:25 PM
You might look into Caldecott winning writer, Verna Aardema. Her books were for a little younger audience, but they were all based on African folklore. Here's a couple of links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verna_Aardema, http://falcon.jmu.edu/~ramseyil/aardemabib.htm

Or just google her.

12-29-2006, 05:22 PM
I guess I assumed the personification of the animals (you actually say this in your original post). Although you can stretch to some animal traits that could have a bearing on human behavior; e.g., territorialism=greed, pack mentality/dymanics=power struggles ("alpha dog")/pecking orders ("caste-ing")/peer pressure, even the black widow destroying her mate (do they have black widows in Africa?). Metaphorical allusions like this would be a challenge to effectively portray (ala Orwell's Animal Farm).

It sounds interesting, CL. Is there a particular bent you're putting to your stories? General Christian ethics?

C. L. Richardson
01-03-2007, 06:28 AM
Is there a particular bent you're putting to your stories? General Christian ethics?

They're mostly about coming to know God, learning to trust Him, and doing what's right. Hope that answers the question. :)

01-04-2007, 05:35 AM
Sounds like good metaphor material; not wrong or weird at all. Ya got my vote!

01-04-2007, 06:54 AM
The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, and it's sequel The Book of Sorrows, are pretty much religious animal fantasies. They're also a marvelously fun read. :D (though I didn't like the second book as much). Christianity is never actually mentioned in the book, and it's set in a sort of hypothetical past described simply as "when animals could still talk and the sun still revolved around the earth", but it's generally described as a christian book--Walter Wangerin is a christian writer and the themes run subtly throughout the story (I personally thought he handled it very well, in such a way that anyone of any religion can enjoy it, while recieving the messages about faith and goodness that he intends. christians I'm sure gain even more from it).

A group of farm animals are faced with an unspeakable evil, against which their faith and their inner goodness is their only weapon. The animals all believe in god, walk, talk, and have problems just like real people, and are fun and well-developed characters (while giving them some 'quirks' that derive from the nature of their species). So yes, I think a christian animal story can totally work. ^_^

01-13-2007, 08:47 PM
Captain Beaky had a brief moment of popularity in the UK about 20 years ago. He was a seagull with a bunch of animal friends, who discussed the gospel. Their enemy was Hissing Sid, a snake, but I think they did try to win him over.
There was a pop record, too.