cover image Animals Who Have Won Our Hearts

Animals Who Have Won Our Hearts

Jean Craighead George. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021543-9

Newbery Medalist George strikes just the right note of respect and appreciation in this unsentimental collection of profiles of animals ``who became beloved in their own right.'' She describes Punxsutawney Phil, the ``king of Groundhog Day''; Smokey Bear, the cub that became a national symbol; and Sugar, a cat that traveled 1500 miles to find her owners. Among the most fascinating characters here is Koko, a gorilla that learned to communicate in American Sign Language: ``When asked the color of her white towel for a boring umpteenth time, she signed `red.' When asked twice again, she replied `red,' then carefully picked a tiny speck of red lint off her towel. She chuckled, and again said `red.' '' The lively writing will likely lead to use of the bibliography provided. Merrill--an animal portraitist making her children's book debut--favors a realistic but lush style, free of artifice, confident in the inherent beauty of the subjects. Pure delight for animal lovers. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)