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  • Susan Stoderl

Middle-Grade Books | Magical Realism | Listening to the Wisdom of Telepathic Animals


Polar Bear, Raven, White Cat
The Wisdom of Telepathic Animals

Why does the Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers series include a telepathic raven, polar bear, and cat?


They came to me as spirit animals during a Celtic guided meditation. Two even came with names, Jack the Polar Bear and Wahoo the Arctic Raven. Zelda Screech Cat was an actual cat that acted like the one in the books. However, the actual Zelda was not telepathic.

In Celtic mythology, Culhwch and Olwen is the oldest Arthurian tale. Scholars date it to the last decades of the eleventh century and found in The Red Book of Hergest, one of the several manuscripts that make up the Mabinogian. There, the talking animals were a blackbird, a stag, an owl, an eagle, and a salmon. The animals represent ancient wisdom. They are there to teach humans what they need to know about the nature of life.


Young heroines and heroes often encountered animals that spoke to them. In the myths, the young adventurers must share their food with the animals, show respect, listen to them, and honor their wisdom. Right actions lead to safety, while wrong actions lead to danger.


In Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers, the telepathic animals teach Sophia and Pedro wisdom as well. Wahoo, a brilliant inventor, looks out for them in perilous situations. Zelda Screech Cat tempers Sophia’s feisty character, while Jack is just a nice polar bear who understands loss. Like Sophia, poachers killed his mother when he was a young cub, just as Sophia lost her parents in a car wreck while a baby.


Listening to the natural world is where true wisdom is learned.


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