Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships by Catherine Thimmesh

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Rating: 5 stars

Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships by Catherine Thimmesh is more than just a cute book with beautiful photographs about animals making strange friends.

It is a book that can be used as a teaching tool to demonstrate diversity and acceptance of differences. In this beautifully photographed book, a stray cat frolics with an orangutan, an owl cuddles with a basset hound, and there is a shot from the famous set of photographs shared across the internet of the polar bear playing with the sled dog.

Animals can make friends cross-species as is clearly depicted in this lovely set of photographs. The question, obviously, is why can’t people just get along with each other? We are, after all, the same species. Yet different skin color or different eye shape, and all too often the face of prejudice is shoved between us.

The photographs and the text explaining each one will have the readers perusing them over and over. The cat and the bear at the Berlin zoo continue to amaze me. The cat entered the bear’s enclosure, and not only didn’t Mauschen, the bear, not attack the cat, she also protected the cat from the other bears. For more than twelve years now!

On each page, above the text explaining the picture is a poem. The poems are short and humorous — and perfect for reading to small children and discussing with them.

A personal favorite is the story about the cheetah and the Antolian dog. Brought together as babies, they grew up together, eating, playing and sleeping side by side. For more than eight years they have been friends. The poem on that page:

No matter if spotted or dot-less and white, a friend gives protection through day and through night. (Teachers, have your students tell you which animal is spotted and which is dot-less and white.)

This book’s a great gift for friends young or old. Find it in the bookstore; I guarantee you’ll be sold. (I also guarantee that the poems in the book are MUCH better than that one!)

This review was based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher.