Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship

Isabella Hatkoff, Author, Craig M. Hatkoff, Author, Paula Kahumbu, Author , photos by Peter Greste. Scholastic $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-439-89959-8

Those who were captivated by Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship —about the bond between a baby hippo orphaned by the 2004 tsunami and an adult tortoise living in the same Kenyan sanctuary—will find this follow-up equally mesmerizing. Again, Greste's crisp color photographs reveal these inseparable animal companions at remarkably close range. A standout sequence of nine frames allows readers to observe one of the unique ways the pair communicates: the now two-year-old Owen, signaling Mzee to move to the left, nudges the 130-year-old turtle's left rear foot. The two also communicate in their own "language," a deep rumbling sound that is not intuitive to either species. The authors (a youngster, her father and the manager of the Kenyan park) do raise questions about how the friendship will progress, as Owen grows to his adult size of 7,000 pounds, and his caretakers worry that he could unintentionally harm Mzee. Nonetheless, readers of all ages will likely concur with the authors' observation: "No matter how things turn out, the story of their friendship will always remind the world that when you need a friend, one will be there for you." Youngsters will eagerly await the next chapter in this extraordinary companionship. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
Genre: Children's
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