To hear or Not to hear from the Animals

owl and mouse talking through tin cansImage credit: Pinterest (no original source located)

Praise the LORD from the earth. . . Small creatures and flying birds. . . . Let them praise the name of the LORD.  Psalm 148:7, 10b

Most publishers don’t seem to agree with that Bible verse. Very thankfully, Sunpenny Publishing isn’t one of them! On my personal quest to publish Sophie’s Quest, I almost gave up early on in the process when I ran into countless entries in writer market guides that read something like this:

__________________Publishing House

Fiction: Query only; almost none accepted; Children’s Books: No talking animals or fantasy.

Even publishing houses that didn’t have a “no talking animals” policy would send me nice rejection letters  that told me all the reasons they liked it, but then concluded with a statement like this one: “I have concerns about animals analyzing a people world and learning about the Bible. ______________Press tries to keep a clear distinction between animal stories and the human world. Each has its place, but only humans have souls and can make spiritual decisions.”

This “No Talking Animals” policy took a lot of people by surprise recently when I mentioned it in a couple of presentations. After all, talking animals–like rabbits named Peter and pigs named Wilbur, not to mention talking toys ,vegetables, sponges, and all sorts of other creatures–are a staple of children’s literature!

I’m sure all those publishing houses had their good reasons for closing the door on talking animal submissions, but spending so much time these past fifteen years with Sophie and Timley have convinced me that animals have quite a lot to say! Not only that, but I feel closer to God because of time spent in their company. I’m praying others will draw closer to God when they spend time in their company, too!

Madeleine L’Engle once said, “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

I thought of that quote many times while on this long journey with Sophie and Timley. This seemed to be that kind of difficult quest–the notion of writing a respectful look at different religions that still sought to bring glory to Jesus scared me enough to pray for about a year before I put pencil to paper! Yet, being with Sophie and Timley made all the difference for me, and ultimately, they were a whole lot of fun.

Who are your favorite talking animals from literature? Wouldn’t it be fun to chat with them this summer? Stay tuned for “Interviews with Talking Animals,” a summertime series. First up–He Beaver and She Beaver from the Chronicles of Narnia!

I’d love to include some of YOUR favorites! Please share in the comments, an email, or Facebook post, and I’ll do my best!

For friends new to this blog, I post an article on Sundays on themes in the novels: faith, friendship, diversity, etc.”Wednesday’s Word” is a weekly Bible audio clip that rotates between Genesis, Luke and Psalms. Occasionally, I post “Wednesday’s Word to the Free,” a short Bible passage on what it means to be free. Freedom is a very big concern to Timley Mouse, the tiniest character in my novel, Sophie’s Quest.

Notice: Wednesday’s Word is taking a hiatus for the summer. See you in the fall! The Sunday posts will continue on their regular schedule as long as I am able!

About Sonja Anderson

I write novels and picture books for children, and occasionally an article or short story for adults, too. I grew up in Ohio, and I have lived in Chicago, Connecticut, Boston, Tokyo, and Seattle. The beautiful Pacific Northwest inspires me every day.
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