1. Frolic's Dance - Valerie Harms
A snowshoe hare, hunted by lynx and other predators, discovers courage and friendship in an attempt to help a young moose calf in trouble.
One of the Smithsonian Wild Heritage series, which tell stories of young wild animals in their natural habitat with a bit of anthropomorphization, I was shocked by how little internet presence this has -- must have been a small press; not sure where my parents got it -- but it has beautiful, detailed paintings. And I really loved Frolic. I had a stuffed white bunny of my own that I named after her, though from a store and not the one apparently officially produced as a companion to this book.
2. Fritz and the Beautiful Horses - Jan Brett
Fritz, a pony excluded from the group of beautiful horses within the walled city, becomes a hero when he rescues the children of the city.
I could have chosen from a great number of hers that I love equally well, but I feel like none of her illustrations are quite so stunning as the beautiful horses (and 1 scruffy hero pony) of this title.
3. Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm - Alice & Martin Provensen
Two dogs, five horses, a pig, some geese, lots of chickens, a few cows, a few goats, several sheep, and four special cats—these are the animals at Maple Hill Farm.
I never owned a copy of this until I was an adult, but this was my number 1 library fave. I checked it out over and over (as well as A Year At Maple Hill Farm), absolutely obsessed with every animal on the place and their illustrations, which were based on the authors' real life.
This edition, specifically. This is my newest rediscovered fave, and I'm REALLY ANNOYED that I can't find any interior illustrations online because I gasped in such delight when I recognized the cute little girl on the cover, with her Dalmatian puppy and her puff hairstyle, that I wonder what the rest of the book is like. I have to assume great, because MWB, even if I can't remember a thing.
And thus did Young Me both learn the term "hobby farm" and begin to dream and scheme of living on one someday (this did not come to pass). Nevertheless, I memorized every animal in these photos - horses, cats, a bunny, geese, goats, and a puppy in training to be a guide dog - and thought Holly here was livin' the dream. Still do.
6. The Whales' Song - Dyan Sheldon
Enthralled by her grandmother's story of seeing and hearing whales singing in the sea long ago, Lilly hopes to see them herself and to hear their mysterious songs
I think I appreciate this more as an adult than I did as a kid, as the oil painting illustrations are a bit dark, but this is a book that was given to me by a family friend when I was 5 and it is a seriously high-quality piece of art. Plus, there is a beautiful element of magic and mysticism to this tale.
Silkypup saves the day when the scheming Duchess RavenWaves tries to steal Lady LovelyLocks's comb, mistakenly thinking it is a source of magic.
Now for the EXACT OPPOSITE of that, time for an uber-bright, lighthearted and very cheap & commercial Little Golden Book. Back then I had absolutely no idea that Lady Lovelylocks was a TV show. I just had this one book about a princess with beautiful long hair, and her horse and her dog who also had beautiful long hair, and her little squirrel-type friends who had similarly long, flowing tails. This could not possibly have been more Me.
A small book with short, simple text, but each page had the most dazzling illustrations featuring various acts of the circus, each dressed in a different color, parading down the street ahead of the big show. I could study them for hours. Especially the one of the girl with her six little white dogs doing tricks.
9. Meet My Cats - Lesley Anne Ivory
The author introduces her dozen feline companions, noting the special traits and virtues of each
Oh look it's yet another version of my dream life, arranged as a miniature pet biography. Beautifully detailed illustrations -- the author has a quite a career in illustrating other cat-themed products, from calendars to cards, and it's pretty easy to see why.
10. I Want a Dog - Dayal Kaur Khalsa
Love the vibrantly colored illustrations, including the cover that I knew long before the painting it is based on. This book spoke to my dog-obsessed soul. Even though I thought the idea of her dragging a roller skate around was dumb, I would have done it for a pup of my own. Much like I hoped that if I too walked around the neighborhood with salami in hand, some dogs might show up and follow me for a while.
As it was, I tied a cloth belt around the neck of a hard-framed battery-operated toy, and because he was too slow on his own, I "walked" him up and down the streets by bouncing him up and down into a sort of rhythmic trot. I called him Blue, before I forget it, and I can't figure out what brand he was but it was the same as this dog, except splashed brown and white all over like a basset hound:
(side note: for non-LJ friends a.k.a. all Top Ten Tuesday readers, we did finally get a real dog when I was 12. Happy day!)
P.S. Special bonus for anyone who got here 24 hours late, like when authors reward you for procrastinating on your purchase by adding extra content to the paperback edition: my rediscovery of Animal Inn!