Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Animal Ark Books Relaunched

22nd July 2018


Animal Ark is a gorgeous series for animal lovers. This much loved series was first published in 1994 and has just been relaunched by Orchard books. Here they give us access behind the scenes access on how they approached relaunching this classic children's series.


At Orchard Books, we know a thing or two about creating series that children LOVE. In fact, we pride ourselves on being the best in the business at it. And once you find the magic formula that keeps kids coming back for more – be it fantastic fairy adventures in Rainbow Magic, or edge-of-your-seat battles with monsters and dragons in Beast Quest – it can ignite a passion for reading that lasts for life.

This summer, we are thrilled to be relaunching one of our best-loved series for a brand-new generation of readers. Animal Ark first appeared on the shelves in 1994, the same year that saw the first series of Friends hit our TV screens and Disney’s The Lion King released at the cinema. With its irresistible combination of cute creatures and real-life animal care, Animal Ark became an instant hit and we published over 50 titles in the series, which went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide. Best friends Mandy and James, along with the rest of the team at the Animal Ark veterinary surgery, were always on hand for any animal that needed their help – including a hamster in a hamper, racoons on the roof, and even a chinchilla up a chimney! 

So, when we decided that we wanted to create a new series for today’s readers that featured animals, friendship and adventure, we didn’t have to look far to come up with the perfect title … Animal Ark! All of the things that made the original Animal Ark such a success are still there – including Mr and Mrs Hope, the vets who own Animal Ark ­– but in our new version we’ve given the veterinary surgery a makeover, added in two new best friends and brought the village of Welford into 2018. It is still a quaint little Yorkshire village, surrounded by farmland, but there’s always something exciting going on to reflect the diverse community that lives there.

We’ve even commissioned brand-new illustrations, to give the series a fresh and up-to-date look because fashions have moved on since the 1990s! Technology has changed a lot, too. In the original Animal Ark books, the internet had only just been invented and nobody had mobile phones. In the new books, the surgery has modern equipment and a website, and uses social media to promote special events. 

When writing a new series, even one with a recognisable name, the first things you have to start with are the characters themselves. Can you imagine Beast Quest without Tom, or Wimpy Kid without Greg? They have to be relatable, believable and a little bit aspirational too. Introducing Amelia and Sam!

Amelia is a newcomer to the village, having moved there with her mother after her parents’ divorce. At first Amelia’s not sure whether she’ll like living in the countryside, but she soon realises that Welford has something the city doesn’t – lots and lots of animals! There are foxes, hedgehogs and badgers living in the hedgerows and woods around the village and sheep, pigs and cows grazing in nearby fields. But it’s a dog that introduces Amelia to her best friend Sam. When Sam’s naughty Westie puppy Mac runs away, Amelia finds him and brings him to Animal Ark. Sam and Amelia quickly bond over their shared love of animals. Sam’s parents run a B&B in the village, so there are always interesting guests staying there ­– sometimes with their pets!

An important part of creating a character is what they look like. Our design team put a lot of thought into how Amelia and Sam should be illustrated. We tried out several different artists, who all drew samples of the best friends and Sam’s puppy Mac. Here are just a few of the styles we considered. 

Animal Ark illustration 2
Animal Ark Illustration
Animal Ark Style 3

But in the end, this is how Amelia and Sam appear in the final books. We think they look great!

Animal Ark artwork

Amelia and Sam are desperate to become official helpers at the surgery, but first they must prove to the vets that they are up to the job. After all, looking after poorly animals is a big responsibility. Amelia and Sam track down a disappearing rabbit, rescue an injured fox, organise a dog show to raise money for a puppy who needs an operation and find new homes for a litter of stray kittens. Along the way, they learn how to care for different species and find out lots of real-life facts about animals. For instance, did you know that baby hedgehogs are called hoglets? Or that strawberries give rabbits a tummy ache?

The original Animal Ark books won the hearts of a whole generation of readers. We’re sure that Amelia and Sam’s brand new adventures will do the same for readers discovering this amazing series for the first time.   

Book pages Placeholder Book

Kitten Rescue (Animal Ark Book 1)

Animal-mad Amelia is sad about moving house, until she discovers Animal Ark, where vets look after all kinds of animals in need. When they discover some baby kittens, Amelia and her new friend Sam are determined to help. But the kittens need their mum, and she's gone missing! Can Amelia and Sam track her down in time?

Book pages Placeholder Book

Bunny Trouble (Animal Ark Book 2)

Amelia and Sam are on a new animal adventure! There's something wrong with thier friend Izzy's bunny rabbit. She seems very sad and she keeps escaping from her hutch. Can Amelia and Sam work out what's wrong with her? Or will the little bunny get into big trouble?

Book pages Placeholder Book

Fox Cub Danger (Animal Ark Book 3)

Amelia and Sam love helping animals. But when they find an injured fox, they have to find new home for a whole fox family. Can they find the perfect place for the cute cubs, safely away from danger?

Book pages Placeholder Book

Puppy in Peril (Animal Ark Book 4)

When a poorly pup comes into Animal Ark vets, no one knows who his owner is, and he needs an operation. Can Amelia and Sam use a TV dog show to raise the money in time?


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