By Story Star correspondent Jane Haynes
A brief glance back at the history of children’s story writing is proof enough of the overwhelming influence which the animal kingdom has had over our budding young readers. Perhaps it is a fascination with the natural world around them, or a budding curiosity to investigate all that is different and unfamiliar; either way, there can be no denying that the animal kingdom has provided some of the best-loved characters and tales throughout the history of children’s literature.
One need only refer to the gargantuan collection of popular fairy tales courtesy of the Brothers Grimm to recognise the significance of the role played by animals in literature. Whether sending a chill down the spine while recounting the tale of Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf or teaching a stern lesson in who not to open your doors to with the tale of the Three Little Pigs, these classic stories highlight the centuries-old connection between the animal kingdom and the story world.
Indeed, few children are unaware of or untouched by the legacy of British author and animal lover, Beatrix Potter, whose charming tales of woodland animals are as popular today as when released a hundred years ago. Her Peter Rabbit character still finds his place alongside the more modern phenomena of children’s literature, such as Peppa Pig, as well as other icons of the literary sphere from Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear, to Fantastic Mr Fox and Spot the Dog.
It could be considered a stroke of genius then, that international publisher Scholastic have decided to build on the strong ties between children’s literature and the animal world by brokering an exclusive deal with the animal welfare group, the RSPCA. This week the company announced they had signed a two-year deal with the RSPCA which would oversee the publication and release of a range of fictional and non-fictional books and annuals – and the best part is, Scholastic will be donating 15p from every sale to the organisation.
The collection, which is aimed at age 7 years plus, will officially launch this month with the release of the first official RSPCA annual. It is geared up to be an animal lover’s delight which will not only include pictures, articles and features on the organisation’s work and favourite animals, but also puzzles and competitions. The next instalment is set for release in January, with Scholastic aiming to showcase the rescue work which the organisation undertakes on a daily basis. This will take the form of a story, based on a particular character or animal under the RSPCA’s care, which will recount their real-life rescue tale.
The core values of the RSPCA are channelled at every point of the campaign, as the All About series (set for release in January 2014) proves. This series will inform and teach children how to properly care for their pets, touching on every aspect from feeding to grooming and training. With the mission statement on the official RSPCA website stating its role as to “offer advice on caring for all animals”, this particular series will no doubt go a long way to focusing this policy on children and young people.
The release of a sticker collection and accompanying books featuring some of the organisations furry friends the following March will be guaranteed to keep the little ones entertained too!
Speaking of the new deal, Scholastic’s managing director voiced the company’s enthusiasm and excitement at merging with such an important and worthy cause: “Scholastic and the RSPCA have worked together to ensure that each book combines good animal welfare advice with a wonderful reading experience for young children.”