Friday, February 27, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 314

Dynamic Duo: Book 1
Picture Book: Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship

Author: Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Photographer: Peter Greste

Summary: A 130 year old giant tortoise, Mzee, and a baby hippo, Owen, develop an amazing father-son relationship after the hippo is orphaned during the December 2004 tsunami. The book begins by explaining how Owen is rescued through the efforts of many Kenyan men and taken to an animal sanctuary, Haller Park. There he is placed in the same area as Mzee, who is known for keeping to himself. Afraid and exhausted, Owen immediately scrambles near Mzee, seeming to hide behind Mzee like typical hippos do with their mothers for protection. At first Mzee is resistant, but Owen is determined and faster. Within a day, Mzee seems to accept his new relationship and Owen is snuggled up beside him. Wildlife experts had never heard of a reptile-mammal bond such as this. Eventually the two are inseparable, and this bond seems to help Owen heal and flourish. Despite the possibility of both animals to injure the other, their interactions are gentle and affectionate. Photographs of the pair’s developing relationship spread around the world, and they became quite famous.

Hanna’s Comments: Several other children’s books about this story have been published about Owen and Mzee, some are by the same author and photographer. One is a sequel to this book that goes into more detail about how they seem to communicate. Its title is Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship. These 2 books have an abundance of information in the back including a link to a free discussion guide. The other 2 are board books for young children with some of the same photographs. Those titles are Owen & Mzee: A Day Together and Owen & Mzee: Best Friends. There are other books about this pair of animals by other authors. The ones featured here have photographs of the animals. A group of these and other authors have more recently published Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own. Another favorite for young children with drawings rather than photos is A Mama for Owen. Tomorrow I will complete this PBT Dynamic Duo about rescued animals with a more recent story about a gorilla.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Scholastic, 2006

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Yes

Formats other than Book: This book states that a documentary and several television programs about this pair are available. There are several videos on as well.

PBT Category: Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book Connects with:  affection, Africa, animals, bonds/connections, brokenness, caring/tending, comfort, companionship, dependence/interdependence, disaster, the environment/nature, fear, friends/friendship, gentleness/meekness, healing/healthcare, home, language/literacy/reading, love, mentors/teachers, new home/relocation, nurturing, pets, poaching/stealing/theft, rescue, respect, safety, safe place/sanctuary, security, shyness, transformation, trust/trustworthiness

Scripture Connections: Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6); I will not leave you orphaned... (John 14:23)

Idea(s) for Application: Use these books in lessons about loving communication with those who are different or the concepts of “peaceable kingdom” in Isaiah or “sanctuary.”

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