Kids and Pets in Fiction

Cover of "Watchers"
Cover of Watchers

Kids and Pets in Fiction

Traci Kenworth

 

Does the same old adage that said of films, “Don’t work with children or pets,” apply to fiction? I know of some people who don’t like children to be included in the stories they read. I think basically because usually they turn into “jeopardy” situations or they’re used as pawns to one-up a relationship. Pets are brought in just to be in the scene as well, they figure. But is this true, or can both be included in works as a vital part of what happens?

I admit to being terrified when a child is kidnapped in books. They remind me of my own children and not only bring out feelings of a lioness, but encourage in me the notion of just how far I’d go to protect/find my kid again. And the use of one as leverage in a relationship makes me furious. Likewise, the love for my animals is brought to test when reading about tragedies or triumphs on their parts in fiction.

Reading these kind of books though often bring out the harsh realities in the world. It does happen: one has only to look at the missing children posters. And who hasn’t been in or heard of a nasty divorce where one/or both parties struggle to win custody? Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been there. And in my case, thank God the judge saw through the lies and manipulations on his part. There are heroes out there that fight to keep safe those who can’t protect themselves. I believe they’re worth writing about.

After all, what parent doesn’t close the cover of Ramsey Campbell’s Mine or one of Mary Higgins Clark’s novels and instantly goes to check on their children to make sure their all right? Fiction educates us to an awareness we might not otherwise think about. Likewise, Dean Koontz is famous for including animals in his stories. Who hasn’t read The Watchers and not been thankful that their pet wasn’t part of some outrageous lab experiment?

Animals and children in fiction stir our emotions just like that heart-stopping moment when our hero, heroine, or both succeed? Why should they not therefore not be included in our works being that they’re such a big part of our lives? I know not everyone wants to read these stories. Just like not everyone wants to read horror, thrillers, and romance. It’s to everyone’s taste, I realize. I just think both could be used to widen our worlds, make our character’s “realer” to us.

So tell me, does a book that includes children or pets not get a second glance from you? Why or why not? Or do you grasp the copy just a little tighter thinking of your son or daughter at home, or little Eski, the American Eskimo dog?

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20 thoughts on “Kids and Pets in Fiction

  1. If it’s a good book, I’m not bothered if it includes animals, children, or circus clowns! I just want a gripping story 🙂

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  2. I think sometimes children can be used as pawns in books. Sometimes, they become integral characters like in Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso.

    Most stories I read that actually have a pet seem to just put it in there for comic relief or as victims of a pyschopath. I would actually really like to see a story that shows the connection that a person can have with an animal like a dog (horses are somewhat cliche for that, maybe). Great post!

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  3. Hi There,
    For me, I won’t watch animal movies, because they are invariably about someone trying to kidnap or kill the poor thing, and it’s too repititive/painful.
    Yet I understand your comments about a parent reading a book about children in distress. I recall reading ‘Battleaxe’ by Sara Douglass, where a child who was a ‘Forbidden’ was mistreated almost to the point of death, and the main character met the child and parent. I couldn’t put the book down until the MC saved the child, miraculously restoring them to health. Having just had my first child at that time, that whole scene really got to me.

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    1. I felt the same way when I read “Mine” by Richard Matheson. I was carrying my first child and I so identified with what a mother/or father, I’m sure, would do to save their child from a killer.

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  4. I loved The Watchers, but hated Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery. Since I write for kids, the majority of what I read is middle grade and young adult books. Naturally, the main characters are kids, so the relationships the MC’s have with animals are quite different than in an adult novel. Much prefer those story lines over the adult kid/pet novels.

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  5. I have no qualms about reading about a child’s misfortunes. It’s sad, true, but also realistic. Lie you said, it may heighten a parent’s awareness of their child’s safety. And as an animal lover, any story that features a dog/cat/ferret/etc. is a win in my books (even if it may anger/sadden me)!

    J.C. Martin
    A to Z Blogger

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  6. They don’t really bother me, either their presence or lack of it. Some people have children and/or pets, and some don’t.

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  7. OMG, I LOVED Watchers–old Koontz. 🙂
    I don’t mind children or pets in books. Actually, I prefer them. While I hope an emotional book with emote me, lol, I know in my mind, it has nothing to do with reality. A reason I can’t watch the news.

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