When I was younger, I wanted to be a vet and I am fairly certain that this was largely down to this book series and my obsession with watching Animal Hospital. (I fairly quickly adapted this ambition to wanting to own a pet shop as I have neither the steady hands nor the stomach required to be a vet… I live behind a pet shop now so I’ve almost made it, right?)
I discovered Lucy Daniels’ Animal Ark series one Christmas when my Gran gave me a copy of Cub in the Cupboard (AA#8) as a present. I immediately loved it just because the cover was adorable (there have been several re-editions since, and none of them have been as nice) and because, well, it’s a book.
I devoured it – laughed and cried in the appropriate places – then promptly read it again. And again. And again. I wanted to be Mandy, the main character because nothing sounded more amazing than being the daughter of two vets, living in a house that connected to their own vet surgery (called Animal Ark) in the beautiful English countryside. Her life was spent surrounded by animals both wild and domestic which was my idea of heaven (still sounds pretty good if I’m honest).
From that point on I asked for the rest of the series for birthdays and Christmases and whenever I got book vouchers or was allowed a book as a treat I went for the Animal Ark books. I had an audiobook of one, and all the ones I didn’t own I borrowed from the library and read instead. I was obsessed.
After a while the adventures expanded to Mandy’s holidays on safari in Africa and around America, there were two or three ‘spin off’ series and several ‘Specials’ at Christmas and the like. I think there was even an Animal Ark magazine and TV series in the end but I always liked the original books the best.
I found out when I got older that Lucy Daniels is in fact lots of different people. The series is the baby of Ben M. Baglio but he didn’t write all of them – they are written by many different authors under the Lucy Daniels pseudonym which explains how there are SO MANY of them! I still have all my copies (well, my parents still have them actually…) and I hope that Tori and Arthur enjoy them as much as I did when they get around to reading them.
I still have lingering desires to own a black and white goat called Houdini after reading Goat in the Garden…