In Childrens' Books
A lion, a tiger, a bear…oh my! Can you imagine they actually play and live together in “the clubhouse” at Noah’s Ark, an animal rehabilitation facility just south of Atlanta, Georgia? Rescued from a life of abuse and neglect, they were kept together, an unlikely trio who are now healthy and happy in their new environs.
 
No book has been written about them yet, but I feel certain there will be one, and it will be wonderful!
 
In the meantime, I continue to gather stories, most often with photos, of unlikely animal friendships. They are a joy to read, to imagine those first moments when things could go the way of predator and prey, but then, they don’t….and it makes me wonder why.
 
I’m convinced many animals have real feelings. You only need to look at an elephant or a gorilla mourning the loss of the elder in their herd or troop. Those facts raise many questions for me – and maybe you – about how they perceive us, each other, and yes, what it is that they see or hear or sense that allows them to strike these strange but so interesting relationships.
 
So, without further ado, I give you these stories with the anticipation that you and your kiddos will be amazed and uplifted by the respect, care, loyalty and trust these animals have for each other. They also show us their sense of fun and adventure. And they remind us that we must treasure and care for our own friendships, too!
 
Enjoy, and happy Spring!
 
 

Suryia and Roscoe by Bhagavan Antle

Who can imagine an orangutan being friends with a dog? Is it even possible?With Suryia and Roscoe it is!
Dogs and orangutans rarely meet, and when they do, they are naturally shy around each other. But when Suryia the orangutan first meets Roscoe, a stray dog, they become best friends from the start.
 
Set on a preserve for rare animals, The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.) in South Carolina, here is a true story of a remarkable friendship between two unforgettable animals.

Itsy Bitsy & Teeny Weeny by Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen

Spring arrives at Hazel Ridge Farm that also serves as a wildlife rescue station. As a mother sheep gives birth, the story’s author spies a smaller, almost dead lamb. This lamb is too weak to be accepted by the lamb’s mother, so the lamb is taken into the house. Meanwhile a fawn is dropped off. Two little ones are as easy to tend as one is, so into the house both of the animals go. The lamb is named Teeny Weeny and the fawn is named Itsy Bitsy. Their rehabilitation and extra canine caregivers make for an amusing and interesting telling about rescued wildlife. As the seasons change, Itsy Bitsy longs to join wild animals. At first, they want to hold the young deer back. When Itsy Bitsy gets caught in the wire, his caregiver realizes it is time to let him live with the other deer in the woods.

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival by Kirby Larson

Bobbi and Bob Cat are the best of friends. When their hometown of New Orleans was struck by Hurricane Katrina, many lost everything. But not Bobbi and Bob Cat—they still had each other. Only by staying together could they survive. This is the story of their remarkable friendship.

Friends to the End For Kids by Bradley Trevor Greive

The combination of captivating animal photography and direct, eloquent words reinforce what kids already know in their hearts: that friendship is about love, loyalty, and-most of all-fun. Friends to the End for Kids is the perfect keepsake to help kids celebrate the magic of friendship.

Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Craig Hatkoff

The December 2004 tsunami orphaned thousands of human and animal babies. Among them was Owen, a baby hippopotamus stranded in Kenya. In the aftermath of the great storm, villagers watched amazed as the lonely hippo was adopted by Mzee (Mm-ZAY), a 130-year-old tortoise. These “tsunami friends” became inseparable buddies, swimming, eating, and playing together. This picture book pays tribute to an unlikely animal alliance and a friendship that transcends species.

Tarra & Bella: THe Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends by Carol Buckley

Children don’t need to be convinced of the reality of interspecies friendships. To some adults, it might seem strange that hippo Owen and tortoise Mzee became best buds, but kids recognized immediately that there was nothing odd about that bond. Similarly, they will experience instant empathy with Tarra and Bella, the elephant and stray dog of this adorable children’s book. Carol Buckley, the cofounder of Tennessee’s Elephant Sanctuary, tells the story of the deep friendship between these differently sized creatures with heartfelt words and heartwarming photographs.

Kate and Pippin: An Unlikely Friendship by Martin Springett

When Pippin, a fawn abandoned by her mother, cries out for help, she is found by author Isobel Springett. After carrying the tiny fawn back to her home, Isobel places Pippin next to Kate, a Great Dane who has never had puppies of her own.
 
What follows is a remarkable and unlikely friendship. Kate successfully raises Pippin to be an independent deer, and Pippin always returns from the forest to visit her best friend.

Suryia Swims! by Bhagavan Antle

Suryia is not your average orangutan. In the first book about him, Suryia and Roscoe, Suryia found an unusual best friend: a dog named Roscoe. Now Suryia jumps into an unusual new hobby: swimming!
 
Orangutans don’t swim; it doesn’t come naturally to them. But Suryia shows that adventures await those who are willing to try something new.
 
Set on a preserve for endangered animals, The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.), here is another true tale of an original orangutan—the first ever known to swim!
 
 

How to Clean A Hippopotamus by Robin Page and Steve Jenkins

This book about animal symbiosis offers readers a close-up, step-by-step view of nature’s fascinating partnerships. Find out why a mongoose comes running when a warthog lies down, how a crab and an iguana help each other out, why ravens follow wolves, and more. Witness the ingenious lifestyles of some of the world’s most unusual animal partners in this book of curious biology.

Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships by Catherine Thimmesh

What makes a camel friends with a Vietnamese pig? Or a wild polar bear pals with a sled dog? In this young preschool book, Catherine Thimmesh makes us wonder at the truth and mystery of unlikely animal friendships. Because the stories behind these friendships are true, not contrived, captured by photographers in many countries ranging from Siberia to Japan, they not only give readers insight into animals but challenge preconceived notions about compatibility. This book also expresses tolerance of differences and makes us look at the kindness of animals—and humans—a little differently.

Little Beauty by Anthony Browne

Once there was a very special gorilla who had almost everything he needed. There was only one thing he didn’t have: a friend. With no other gorillas at the zoo, the keepers try something new. Will the gigantic ape strike a bond with another sort of creature, one as tiny and innocent as a kitten? Sparked by the story of a real gorilla who learned to sign, Little Beauty is a celebration of a most surprising friendship.

Elephants Can Paint Too! by Katya Arnold

I teach in two schools. One is in the city. The other is in the jungle. Some of my students have hands. Others have trunks.
 
Elephants live in Asia. They eat three hundred pounds of food a day. They spray water out of their trunks. Even so, they are a lot like you. They like to eat cookies and hang out with their friends. They even like to paint pictures.
 
In this true story you’ll learn about an amazing class of elephants that are taught to become artists by an amazing teacher.
 
 

The True Story of Stellina by Matteo Pericoli

Stellina was a bird: “CHEEP.” A very little bird: “Cheep! cheep!”So begins critically acclaimed author Matteo Pericoli’s true story of how he and his wife, Holly, came to rescue and raise a little finch, Stellina, in the middle of New York City. When no zoo would take the abandoned bird, fallen from her nest onto a busy street, Holly took her home and gave her the best life she could. And there, in a Manhattan apartment, Stellina learned how to eat, fly, and sing.

Help! by Holly Keller

This not a true story …. but if the characters were humans, it could be!Mouse, Hedgehog, Rabbit, Squirrel, and Snake are friends. But one day Mouse hears from Skunk (who heard it from Fox) that snakes are dangerous, especially to mice.
 
Oh, dear! Can friendship survive gossip? Should friends stick together, no matter what? And what do friends do when a friend is in trouble? Or when a friend has hurt feelings?
Do you know the answers? Mouse and Snake need your help!
All these books should be available to borrow from your local library. They are also available for purchase at Barnes & Noble Booksellers.
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