Picture Book: Pinduli by Janell Cannon (Harcourt 2004)
Janell Cannon fills her books with worthwhile life lessons for her readers and Pinduli is no exception. This story of a hyena who is teased for the way she looks is a perfect introduction to a discussion about bullying and its far-reaching effects. Pinduli is able to come up with a clever (and non-violent) way to deal with her tormentors that will leave your students giggling. Cannon’s beautiful illustrations are just the icing on the cake of this endearing title.
Novel: Pets Are For Keeps by Virginia Vail (Scholastic 1986)
This is the first book in a twelve-book series called Animal Inn. Perfect for your animal lovers, this book should be a comfortable read for advanced 3rd graders-4th graders. The book (and the series) center on Valentine Taylor, an animal-loving middle school student whose father is a veterinarian. The combination of lots of animal antics and realistic sibling and friend relationships makes this book one with which it is easy for students to connect.