1. Lynn Hall
You might remember a post I made about this. Her work just fascinates me. So does her life. She's basically the last living link to the Golden Era of horse & dog stories published in the 50s and 60s, with her first released in '65. She branched out beyond that, though, and one thing I find interesting about her teen novels is that they often read more like very short adult novels, as she tends to include prominent adult perspectives (The Giver and The Leaving come to mind), and the teens' thoughts tend to be quite mature in terms of outlook on life.
2. Betty Cavanna
With a long and illustrious writing career, I'd expect her books to be plentiful at sales, but they are not. Devil of a time finding any ever. But she wrote lots of awesome children's & teen books about girls in the 40s-70s, often featuring dogs and sometimes horses in the story as well.
3. Jim Kjelgaard
An elementary-school favorite whose work was published in the 40s-60s, I finished less than half of his work and remember even less, but his name is synonymous with horse/dog/wildlife stories to me. I'm always surprised that more people don't recognize his name. Sometimes they don't even recognize the title Big Red. Not one single person out of the 150+ responses I read about "childhood favorites" 2 weeks ago mentioned him. How??
4. Marguerite Henry
I've collected 18 or so already, but the end goal is every animal book, in illustrated hardcover where possible (a few were not released this way, and she also wrote some geography/culture-themed children's books early in her career I don't much care about).
Bonus Illustrator Auto-Buy: Wesley Dennis. Well known for partnering with Marguerite Henry midcentury, he's basically the Greatest Of All Time drawer of equines. His work is so vast that I would need a whole house for books he's illustrated, in addition to the handful he wrote, but it's worth noting I'm often more inclined to buy a particular edition of a book or even a compilation of horse stories if he's illustrated it.
5. Diana Thorne
The Wesley Dennis of dogs, I call her, except a couple of decades earlier and more prolific as an author in her own right. Her books tend to be rather expensive, so they may not be feasible for me to automatically buy, but BOY DO I WANT TO. People like her & Dennis make me understand how the obscenely wealthy spend so much money on art, though I'm definitely still coming at from a place of "why would you want something like a Van Gogh or a Monet when you could have a Diana Thorne gallery??"
"Would buy new if I were a fancy lottery winner. Maybe."
1. Morgan Matson
(Amy & Roger's Epic Detour; Since You've Been Gone, etc.)
Four books (that I've read), zero disappointments. Each of her novels qualifies as a tome, so you get plenty of bang for your buck, they have beautiful cover designs, and she writes incredibly realistic, memorable characters. All set in the same universe, which is even better.
2. Kristen Chandler
(Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me; Girls Don't Fly; Thief of Happy Endings)
She makes animals/animal issues a central component of YA novels. You know who else does that? NO ONE, BASICALLY. She also, based on my experience with the first two, keeps things nicely clean, romance-wise.
3. Kim Culbertson
(Songs for a Teenage Nomad; Instructions for a Broken Heart; etc.)
Three books (that I've read), average rating 4 stars. She has a beautiful way with words and writes such good female protagonists.
4. Sarah Dessen
(Keeping the Moon; Lock and Key; Saint Anything, etc.)
Technically, Dessen has twice burned me SO HARD, on top of my strong dislike for Just Listen, that she is now subject to restriction. But mostly, I am an optimist. I hate to be cliche, but I still love the comfort-food feeling of her novels, typical suburban girls going through typical part-time job, family and relationship struggles.
5. Deb Caletti
(Honey, Baby, Sweetheart; The Nature of Jade; The Fortunes of Indigo Skye; etc.)
Deb : Sarah --> "I'm You But Stronger." As long as I've known Sarah existed, I have known Deb to churn out similarly staple contemporary novels. But hers tend to feel like they have a little more bite, and take on more unique issues. I don't always like them as well. But I like them more *consistently* -- none have outright disapointed, and I've read all her YA save her newest two + Queen of Everything.
P.S. Wow this list would have been fun to compare to my "most read authors" stat on Goodreads, if Goodreads hadn't been a butt and TAKEN IT AWAY. ("People weren't using it much" oh I'm sorry, was it costing you a noticeable percentage of your profits each month to maintain that piece of code? really??)
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