Uncle Ulric’s Home for Unusual Animals

by Jason Lang. Shortlistee of the Best Chapter Book for 5-8-year-olds competition 2024


The always curious Myra loves visiting her Uncle Ulric’s animal sanctuary and meeting the animals he’s rescued. One day he asks her to look after what appears to be a regular, if particularly hungry, hamster…but all is not as it seems with Colin the Hamster and, when the devious Madame Crateux kidnaps him, Myra and Uncle Ulric must save the day…

The first in a series of humorous chapter books for 6-8-year-olds, who love unusual animals.

Chapter One

There it was.

Myra’s favourite place in the whole wide world. The rickety sign said:

Uncle Ulric’s Home for Unusual Animals

Uncle Ulric wasn’t just anyone’s uncle. He was Myra’s uncle, and he was the most wonderfully absurd man she had ever met.

‘Uncle Ulric, Uncle Ulric? Where are you?’ smiled Myra.

The tin bell rang as Myra skipped through the door. The animal sanctuary was dark, damp and dangerous. Or so Myra’s mum always said. Myra loved every gloomy corner of it.

A sea of tiny eyes followed her as she crept through each row. Myra peered into the tanks and read the scrawled sign pinned to each one:

Terry and Lydia−Giant African Land Snails

Rescued November 12th; moving out December 3rd

Terry is happy enough for the most part, but Lydia has a real attitude when she’s hungry. Don’t be late with lunch.

Myra gave them a wave and wandered on:

Stanley−Mexican Walking Fish (Axolotl)

Rescued July 7th; waiting for a new home

Ate two of the goldfish−keep Stanley on his own. Grew his leg back soon after moving in but pretends to limp for sympathy

She couldn’t be sure, but Stanley did look like he was limping a bit too dramatically.

The next tank was very dark indeed:


Rescued September 28th; moving out December 10th

Not entirely certain she’s actually in the tank. Either way, don’t let her scare the stick insects again. I mean it, Steve. It’s not funny.