cover image Dogs Have the Strangest Friends & Other True Stories of Animal Feelings

Dogs Have the Strangest Friends & Other True Stories of Animal Feelings

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. Dutton Books, $19.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45745-9

Setting the tone for these stories-cum- animal-rights agenda, Masson's long-winded introduction posits that animals ""have nearly all the feelings we do, and maybe even some that we don't."" Drawing primarily from published works, including his books for adults (When Elephants Weep; Dogs Never Lie About Love), Masson describes intriguing friendships between various species, animals' acts of courage and compassion and other incidents revealing a range of animal emotions. Throughout, the author offers personal, often highly speculative interpretations (e.g., after discussing elephants' well-documented interest in elephant bones, he writes, ""I think they are trying to figure out why humans kill elephants for their tusks""). He is given to rambling, sometimes fatuous musings (for instance, writing of two adult peregrine falcons whose father was temporarily unable to feed them in their youth, he says: ""Probably they now knew what hunger meant and would never allow their children to go hungry. Or so I like to think""). While many will agree with his politics (he's vegetarian, anti-fur and anti-animal testing), the arguments are presented without balance (""Does this poor planet really need another kind of floor polish, one of the many products tested on animals?""). The most effective element here is the least heavy-handed: Felts's (The Blue Whale) tender, softly focused watercolors of animals in their native habitats. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)