True Animal Tails

Staff Picks

True Animal Tails

What could be cuter than books about animals? How about true stories of animals who did amazing things like learn with humans, save lives and make best friends? The selections on this list tell the true tails of amazing animals. Children and adults alike will enjoy the heart-warming stories and beautiful illustrations.

Note: All titles are linked to their physical copies, and many are available as library e-books or e-audiobooks with OverDrive and its app Libby.

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird by Stephanie Spinner
One day, a young African grey parrot is adopted by a graduate student. Alex the parrot gradually learns to speak, read, and converse with the student. But how do we know he’s really learning (and not just ‘parroting’)? Ages 6-10 years.

Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone...While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent! by Emily Arnold McCully
A Dutch captain buys a baby rhinoceros in India, names her Clara, and takes her back to Europe on a ship. Kings and queens marvel at the exotic creature, but how will the captain keep fast-growing Clara fed? Ages 5-8 years.

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox
Elizabeth is a 1500-pound elephant seal who calls the Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand her home. The residents of Christchurch try to help Elizabeth readjust to seal life, but only Elizabeth knows where she truly belongs. Ages 5-8 years.

The Incredible Life of Balto by Meghan McCarthy
Balto was a sled dog who lead his team through a blizzard to bring medicine to the children of Nome, Alaska. The public was so impressed by Balto's bravery that he became a vaudeville act. Until one day the act runs out of money... Ages 4-8.

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Baby gorillas Ivan and Burma are stolen from their mother in the African jungle and sold to a shopping mall in Oregon. The years pass and Ivan grows lonely. Luckily, there are lots of people who love Ivan and want what's best for him. Ages 3 & up.

Koko’s Kitten by Francine Patterson

Koko was a gorilla who lived in a research facility. The scientists taught Koko sign language and she was able to communicate with them. One day, the trainers gave Koko a grey Manx kitten named Ball. It was love at first sight. Ages 6-10 years.

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes, illustrated by Sue Cornelison

When war breaks out in Mosul, Iraq, a family decides to flee and they take their little white cat with them. Once they reach the island of Lesbos, little Kunkush the cat runs away. A volunteer worker finds the scared cat, but how will they reunite the feline with her family? Ages 5-8 years.

Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff and Paula Kahumbu, photographs by Peter Greste
A baby hippo needs care after the devastating tsunami of 2004. Kenyan villagers work tirelessly to save him, and a 130-year-old tortoise becomes the hippo's new best friend! Ages 5-10 years.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Two penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo begin to mate. But both of them are male. Their chances for a chick seem doomed until Tango comes along. Ages 4-7 years.

The True Story of Stellina by Matteo Pericoli
A little bird falls out of her nest in Manhattan. Luckily, a nice lady hears the tiny bird’s cheep and gives her a new home. Ages 3-7 years.