Barks, Moos, Squeaks, and Coos: Writing from an Animal’s Point of View--A Middle Grade Fiction Panel!

Listen in on a spirited conversation with three middle grade authors: Carolyn Crimi (Secondhand Dogs) PJ Gardner(Horace & Bunwinkleand Rina Heisel (Journey Beyond the Burrow) as they discuss the challenges and joys of writing books with animal protagonists. You'll have a chance to ask our guests some questions, too!  This program is geared to kids who love to read stories about animals, and the adults who are attempting to write them. This virtual program is free. Register HERE to reserve your spot. 

Buy any or all of the three books discussed--The Book Stall is donating 20% of the proceeds to the Humane Society during the month of July! Click HERE for an easy place to buy all three titles!

About the Books:

Secondhand Dogs, by Carolyn Crimi:

Miss Lottie's home was for second chances.

When she adopted Gus, Roo, Tank, and Moon Pie, Miss Lottie rescued each member of the pack--including herself, her helper, Quinn, and her reclusive cat, Ghost--and turned them into a family. But when a new dog, Decker, arrives and tries to hoard Miss Lottie's heart and home for himself, the pack's future is threatened.

At first, Gus, the insecure pack leader, only notices little things, like tiny Moon Pie being kicked out of the bed and Ghost acting spooked (then again...Ghost is a cat). But things soon go from bad to worse as Decker's presence causes disharmony in the group.

When Decker convinces Moon Pie to embark on an impossible journey, it's up to Gus to gather his courage, rally his splintered pack, and bring the little dog home. And with coyotes and cars on the loose, the pack must push through obstacles and dangers to reunite with Moon Pie before he can get hurt--or, nearly as bad, get his heart broken.

Horace & Bunwinkle, by PJ Gardner:

Horace Homer Higgins III despises dirt. And the outdoors. And ducks. But when his person, Eleanor, moves to a farm called the Homestead, the anxious Boston Terrier is forced to adapt. As if that isn't enough to strain his nerves, Ellie adopts a perpetually cheerful potbellied pig named Bunwinkle to be his baby sister. Bunwinkle is delighted to be on the farm despite the stuffy demeanor of her new canine brother. She's sure she'll crack his shell eventually--no one can resist her cuteness for long--especially once they bond over watching a TV pet-tective show. When the duo discovers that neighborhood animals have been disappearing, they decide to use their new detective skills to team up to solve this barnyard mystery. Is it a mountain lion? Or their suspiciously shot-loving veterinarians? Only one thing seems certain: if they don't figure it out soon, one of them might be next!

Journey Beyond the Burrow by Rina Heisel: 

When young mouse Tobin has his baby brother snatched from his burrow by monstrous spiders, Tobin and his friends must embark on a dangerous journey deep into their forest home to save him, encountering new friends along the way.

"Heisel takes readers on a high-octane mouse-eye view of a daring rescue. A delightful, detailed adventure in which a trio of mice become heroes."-- Kirkus Reviews

About the Authors:

Carolyn Crimi received her MFA in writing for children from Vermont College in 2000. She has published over fifteen books, including Dear TabbyDon't Need FriendsBoris and BellaHenry & the Buccaneer BunniesWhere's My Mummy?, and I Am the Boss of This Chair. Her book There Might Be Lobsters won the Golden Kite Award in 2018 for Picture Book Text, and her middle grade debut, Weird Little Robots, was named a BEA Book Buzz pick. Carolyn has received over thirty state awards and award nominations and was given the Prairie State Award in 2012 for her body of work.

PJ Gardner lives in Gilbert, Arizona, with her husband and sons as well as Rosie the Boston Terrier. For research purposes for her book Horace & Bunwinkle, PJ spent hours playing with the potbellied pigs that live down the road from her. Visit her at

Rina Heisel has written the scripts for many natural science-themed documentaries and magazine segments, a few of which have links on her website, She is also a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. After eleven years producing educational television programs for South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Rina found she especially enjoyed writing segments centering on natural sciences. She found lots of inspiration in the animals she filmed, feeling as if she was getting a sneak peek into their secret worlds.



Event date: 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Event address: 

Online Crowdcast event!
Secondhand Dogs Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062989185
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: Balzer + Bray - July 6th, 2021

A heartwarming—and heart-tugging—middle grade novel about love, loyalty, and what it means to be part of a family—from author Carolyn Crimi, with adorable illustrations by Melissa Manwill. Perfect for fans of A Dog’s Life and Because of Winn-Dixie.

Miss Lottie’s home was for second chances.

Horace & Bunwinkle Cover Image
By PJ Gardner, David Mottram (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780062946546
Availability: Not on hand, usually available within 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - September 15th, 2020

The first in a young middle grade animal series in which an anxious Boston Terrier and an exuberant potbellied pig team up to solve crimes in their barnyard—from debut author PJ Gardner, with illustrations by David Mottram.

Perfect for fans of the Mercy Watson series, The Trouble with Chickens, and A Boy Called Bat.

Journey Beyond the Burrow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063016033
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: HarperCollins - July 13th, 2021


With the adventure of Avi’s Poppy series and the heart of A Wolf Called Wander, this charming and exciting middle grade adventure follows one mouse’s journey to save his baby brother from a sinister evil.