OLD SCHOOL KIDLIT ABOUT GIRLS AND THEIR LOVE FOR DOGS

What if you have a canine loving girl and she would like to see herself reflected in literature? Well, girls and dogs have in previous eras and in other cultures been seen together quite often.

cover by R. Bernardi, 1908

cover by R. Bernardi, 1908

Andreini 1910 1

Andreini 1910

cover by N. Borifina, 1919

cover by N. Borifina, 1919

 

Andreini 1909

Andreini 1909

The 1940s gave us George and Timmy, though Enid Blyton felt she had to turn Georgina into an honorary boy.

George and Timmy Famous Five

Dorothy had Toto, but you won’t find Toto on a lot of the covers. Here he is on this one, though:

Dorothy Toto

Notice that girl dogs tend to be little and cute, while boys tend to own larger working dogs:

Us illustrated and written by Cecil Aldin. The Story of a little girl and her black Scotch terrier.

Us illustrated and written by Cecil Aldin. The Story of a little girl and her black Scotch terrier.

I don't know the source of this illustration, which seems to date from the 1920s. Typically, the boy is associated with the dog; the girl with a cat; the toddler with a stuffed animal.

I don’t know the source of this illustration, which seems to date from the 1920s. Typically, the boy is associated with the dog; the girl with a cat; the toddler with a stuffed animal.

Scotty dogs are perhaps especially feminine:

SURPRISE: THE STORY OF MOLLY AND MOPS by Charlotte Smith

SURPRISE: THE STORY OF MOLLY AND MOPS by Charlotte Smith

Not many of the LHotP covers depict Jack, but he was certainly important to Laura and the family.

Not many of the LHotP covers depict Jack, but he was certainly important to Laura and the family.

This is the only version I can find of LHotP which highlights the special relationship between the girl and her dog.

This is the only version I can find of LHotP which highlights the special relationship between the girl and her dog.

Dogs continued to be important throughout Laura's life.

Dogs continued to be important throughout Laura’s life.

CONTEMPORARY MIDDLE GRADE

These days we do have the benefit of Kate diCamillo. This story ticks another box — it’s not about a well-off kid who lives in a middle class house and a good income. (Winn-Dixie has also been adapted for the screen.)

Because of Winn-Dixie

By Kay Thompson, illustrations by Hilary Knight. An adventurous and confident young girl lives on the top floor of a New York hotel with her nanny, a dog, and a turtle.

By Kay Thompson, illustrations by Hilary Knight. An adventurous and confident young girl lives on the top floor of a New York hotel with her nanny, a dog, and a turtle.

Star In The Storm

Though there's no girl on the cover (wouldn't want to alienate boy readers, now), this is about the relationship between a girl called Charley and her dog.

Though there’s no girl on the cover (wouldn’t want to alienate boy readers, now), this is about the relationship between a girl called Charley and her dog.

Here’s another book about other abled kids, and a girl and her dog.

One Golden Year cover

For one happy year, Caitlin and her mother raise and train a puppy to become a companion dog for the disabled. Albion, the loving, intelligent Golden Retriever, graduates from training and is given to a girl in a wheelchair who is Caitlin’s age.

PICTUREBOOKS

This picturebook from Pamela Allen is about a girl who actually neglects her dog, but learns not to by the end.

This picturebook from Pamela Allen is about a girl who actually neglects her dog, but learns not to by the end.

Wolf Children is a Japanese animated feature about a girl and a boy who are half wolf, half human. The girl is the storyteller narrator. It follows both the boy and the girl as they navigate through childhood and make a big decision at adolescence.

In picture books we have the metafictive story This Book Just Ate My Dog, and the main character is called Bella and is wearing a dress.

This Book Just Ate My Dog

 

FILM

A number of the stories above have been adapted for film/TV.

We also have The Journey of Natty Gann, which stars a ‘tomboy’ and looks to be a female equivalent of White Fang. The story is a Disney original but there’s also a novelisation of the film.

The Journey of Natty Gann

Set in 1935, the movie tells the story of a 15-year-old tomboy girl, Natty Gann (Meredith Salenger). Out of work because of Depression-era unemployment, Natty’s widowered father (Ray Wise) parlays his surefootedness into getting a job as a lumberjack. In order to get hired, he travels from Chicago to the state of Washington. He tells Natty that she will have to look after herself for the time being. Having no mother, Natty is left in the care of Connie (Lainie Kazan), the insensitive woman who manages the hotel Natty and her father had been living in.

After overhearing Connie reporting her as an abandoned child, Natty runs away to find her father on her own, embarking on a cross-country journey. Along the way she saves a wolfdog from a dog fighting ring. In return the dog, whom she calls Wolf, follows her as her protector in her attempt to return to her Father.