The Night Animals

The Night Animals

By Author / Illustrator

Sarah Ann Juckes, illus Sharon King-Chai


Family & Home

Age range(s)



Simon & Schuster Ltd




Paperback / softback




Uncover the ghost animals within in this moving and uplifting story about finding help where you need it, from the highly acclaimed author and illustrator of The Hunt for the Nightingale.

Nora's mum has good days and bad days, but the bad days are getting worse. It's been just the two of them for always, and they don't need anyone else. When the rainbow-shimmering ghost animals Nora used to see when she was small start to reappear, she's convinced that they hold all the answers. Along with new friend Kwame, Nora follows a glittering ghostly fox, hare, raven and otter on the adventure of a lifetime, helping her to find the strength she needs to help her family.  In a heartbreaking and hopeful narrative, Sarah Ann Juckes' stunning novel, illustrated by the award-winning Sharon King-Chai sees a brave young girl face down her ghosts. For fans of The Last Bear and Julia and the Shark.

Praise for Hunt for the Nightingale:   'Full of hope, beauty & ultimately a healing song to nature' Hannah Gold, author of The Last Bear.  'An incredibly moving story of feeling lost and finding your way again' Lisa Thompson, author of Rollercoaster Boy.  'Will break your heart and mend it back together again' Piers Torday, author of The Last Wild.  'This poignant exploration of grief and denial seen through the eyes of a child is underpinned by lessons about kindness, acceptance and nature' Daily Mail

Find out more from author Sarah Ann Juckes



The Night Animals has a sumptuous cover by Sharon King-Chai (who also did the illustrations inside) to attract new readers. However, Sarah Ann Juckes's existing fans will take equal delight in this new story which is set in the modern day and features Nora as the main character, and Kwame who becomes her staunchest friend.

Nora's initial reluctance to be Kwame's friend stems from her conviction that she and Mum (a paramedic who now suffers with PTSD) are fine just as they are, and don't need anyone’s help, thank you! It takes the repeat appearances and playful persistence of, first a ghost fox, then a hare, then ravens, and finally an otter, to bring Nora round - slowly and reluctantly - to the truth. She begins to see that running away from her problems will only prolong them, in contrast to welcoming the kindness of her teacher Miss Omar, Mum's work colleague Bill, not to mention Kwame and his family; kindness that might actually bring healing.

This realisation follows from her pursuit of each animal as it first gains her attention and then leads her to a scrapyard, a railway track and even an island animal sanctuary. There, in the midst of a violent storm, Nora reaches a turning point. Her 'ghost animals' - whether they are memories, thoughts or feelings - have revealed what was deeply hidden and have led her to share them so that, like the tiny ant, she can carry big burdens in the company of others. It takes courage, but it is the journey towards a brighter future.

260 pages / Reviewed by Jane Rew, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 9+


What a sensitively written story covering PTSD within a single parent family. I absolutely loved being taken through the ups and downs of Nora and her relationships with her mother, absent father, friend Kwame and of course the night animals.

In The Night Animals, Jukes introduces the night animals immediately, at the beginning of the story, with the first animal, a fox, appearing. As the story unfolds Nora meets other night animals - what do they want and why are they only visible to Nora? Nora is struggling with her mother's PTSD and worries how to help or what not to do, so that her mum has more good days than bad. She tells everyone that both she and her mum are fine. However, her mum seems to be having more bad days.

As her relationship with Kwame grows, Nora feels more comfortable and allows him into parts of her world which have been completely closed to everyone. He is always there for her, even though at times Nora is unaware of just how much. In turn, Nora gives Kwame the opportunity to grow stronger so that his bravery emerges.

I loved how the story concluded and how the person she meets at the close will provide help in the only way that sort of person can – no spoilers! Definitely a book for those who wants to get a little insight into PTSD, The Night Animals will also fit well on any bookshelf alongside All the Things that Could go Wrong by Stewart Foster and Can You See Me?, by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott, to name just two.

260 pages / Reviewed by Donna Ritchie, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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