TOP 5 FRIDAY: Animal companions

Posted by Jazz on Friday September 18th, 2015

Beware of spoilers! You'll be surprised to find that this is the first Top 5 for a long, long time where a Harry Potter character has not been mentioned. Although a lot of us were itching to write about Hedwig (*sobs*), there were other companions we absolutely couldn't miss out – and since we have SO many fantastic animal pals in CH books (see the brilliant Baxter in the header photo – you'll find out more about him soon), we decided to look further afield. Here are five of our faves ... 

1. Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon (Laura’s choice)

Mainly chosen because he is just so CUTE, movie Toothless (sorry, book Toothless) would be my pick of animal companion. Set aside the obvious advantages of flight and fighting strength, and Toothless is still hands down the best animal companion. He’s the most loyal and intelligent of all the dragons, and who wouldn’t want the only living Night Fury as a pet? Add on to this the fact that he is basically a dragon-shaped version of my pet cat, there could be no other companion for me.

2. Hugo in Pongwiffy by Kaye Umansky (Jazz’s choice)

It is an absolute travesty that more people have not read the Pongwiffy series – they’ve got that brilliant humour that can be enjoyed by adults as well as kids, and if you haven’t read them you’re really missing out. One of the selling points is Hugo: a no-nonsense, tough-talking hamster from Amsterdam, who will stop at nothing to prove that he is a suitable witch’s familiar (even invoking fear into Dead-Eye Dudley, an ex-pirate’s cat who speaks in sea shanties. I told you you’re missing out). Hugo gets Pongwiffy out of many a scrape, is (literally) fiercely loyal, and is the source of many sassy one-liners. Definitely a pal I’d want on my side, two inches tall or not.

3. Pantalaimon in Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (Kesia’s choice)

IMO, Pan knocks the other animal companions out of the water (sorry guys). He’s anything he’d like to be, shifting effortlessly from moth to mouse to wildcat. He’s brave, mischievous, and a big fat chunk of Lyra’s soul. After reading Northern Lights as a child, I pined for a daemon – I even tried to convince my cat, Toffee (a large ginger tom with a purr like an engine), that we had a psychic connection. Turns out he was more interested in sleeping than figuring out how to shapeshift. Sigh.

4. Manchee in The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Esther’s choice)

Confession: I don’t much like dogs. And being privy to the inner thoughts of Todd’s dog in The Knife of Never Letting Go did little to win me over me at first (he is all about the poo!). But Manchee has perfect comic timing and injects sorely-needed humour into an alarmingly bleak world. More than that, he offers love and dogged loyalty to Todd when he is running for his life. Just when I’ve fallen for Manchee completely, Patrick Ness does the unthinkable to him. Unforgiveable.

5. Mog in Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr (Sarah’s choice)

Well, Mog from any of the Mog books really. Mog can’t fly, but she dreams that she has wings. She likes boiled eggs for breakfast and once she even caught a burglar. Mog is your archetypal cat. She is entitled, lazy, loyal, greedy and loving. She belongs to the Thomas family and they love and are frustrated by her in equal measure. But in Kerr’s 2002 conclusion to the series the unthinkable happens … is the most sad and beautiful picture book I have read, and the only one I have cried reading.

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