“You Are a Mysterious Animal, You Know”: Eco-philosophy in Sonya Hartnett’s The Midnight Zoo

Aliona Yarova


In non-realist children’s literature, animals tend to be employed as a means of representing human issues to the extent that the animal qualities of the animal can become invisible. Despite this trend, literary animals can also inform readers about animal issues along with the metaphoric message they supposedly carry. In Sonya Hartnett’s The Midnight Zoo, the role of animals is twofold: firstly, animals metaphorically represent human relationships – more specifically the bigotry towards the Roma as ‘other’ – and, secondly, the animals directly stand for the actual animals who are mistreated according to the same principle: for their ‘otherness’ to humans. This article adopts an eco-philosophical perspective to examine how The Midnight Zoo effectively intertwines human intolerance of other humans (the Roma) with human actions towards animals to suggest that humans treat the (natural) world as the Nazis treated the Roma during World War II.


Sonya Hartnett; eco-philosophy; magic realism; animals; Roma Holocaust; WWII; posthumanism

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14811/clr.v39i0.239


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Barnboken – Journal of Children's Literature Research eISSN 2000-4389
This journal is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Responsible editor: Lillemor Torstensson