Time for some more Animal friendships

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Lonesome George finds His friends. By Tori Kosara

This as a very simple non- fiction book about a nearly 100-year-old Galapagos tortoise named George. Did you know they could grow to weigh up to 500 pounds? This is not your typical 25cm Hermanni garden tortoise! Poor old George is the only one of his kind left on the volcanic Galapagos Islands, making him a tad lonely.

George decides to take a slow tour of his island to discover some other animals with whom he might be friends. First up George meets a sea lion who likes to sun himself on the beach just like George. He then meets a turtle and we can read some clear characteristic between tortoises and turtles. Sally Lightfoot crab is probably too shy to become friends with, as she hides too easily.

Sperm Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins are potential sea playmates. Cormorants, Penguins, Finches, Frigate birds, Albatross – George encounters many possible feathered friends. Marine Iguana and Volcanic lizards are reptiles just like George!

After all these encouraging friendly encounters all in a day’s island stroll, George snacks on some guava and cactus before settling into a mud wallow to sleep.  The Illustrations are all close-up photos on colorful backgrounds. This is a text that an animal loving child will enjoy reading to a parent.

More details can be found here on the National Geographic Kids site.

How to Clean a Hippopotamus – A look at unusual animal partnerships. By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page A second non-fiction picture book, this one addressing the symbiosis between certain animals. I already reviewed a Tomie de Paola book about this here – Bill and Pete.

There are some extraordinary zoological facts presented here in concise detail, in short captions for the several collage-based illustrations on each page. The illustrations contain plenty of detail and this could work as a small group read or a read alone book. Whereas Lonesome George is for the specific animal lover, How to Clean a Hippopotamus has universal appeal. Children will be fascinated by why a Nile Crocodile will kill all animals except the Egyptian Plover, nicknamed the toothpick bird! The giraffe has entered into a similar partnership with the Oxpecker, which can keep a giraffe tick and parasite free while enjoying its dinner.

I had a real aha moment myself while reading this book. Because hippos are in water for so many hours at a time algae and other water plants start to cover their skin. What can help with this problem? Well I know regular readers of my blog will have already guessed – An African helmeted turtle. This relationship is actually reciprocal, as the turtle can use a hippo’s back as a sun-basking platform. Now we know why maybe Owen and Mzee had an instinctive attraction to each other. T

he book looks at many more symbiotic relationships with animals and culminates with the one we know best, man and dog. There is a brief synopsis about symbiosis at the back as well as a very brief description of each of the many animals mentioned. I found this book educational while being entertaining and exceptionally well written; I warmly recommend it.

I love the jacket flap summary about the authors. “Robin Page and Steve Jenkins share a burrow in Boulder, Colorado, where they work and forage together, occasionally picking lint of each other’s sweaters. They enjoy a happy host/parasite relationship with their ten-year old son, Jamie. Their two other nestlings have fledged”. This gives you a taster of the humor one can incorporate into non-fiction.

Books 74 and 75 in the Read to Me Picture Book Reading Challenge

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8 Responses to Time for some more Animal friendships

  1. What a learning experience your blogposts are! Thank you for that link to the National Geographic site — I’ve learned a great deal this morning, and I haven’t even had breakfast yet. The fact that a Galapagos tortoise can go for a year without food or water staggers my mind.

    Seeing the symbiosis between hippo and turtle did indeed give insight into why Owen would head for Mzee. (And why it took Mzee a while to warm up to him, since he isn’t of the species that usually interacts with hippos.)

    Fascinating stuff, Joanna!

    • Joanna says:

      I really enjoy National Geographic kids, it is just as informative as their material for adults. I just hope even in his aged state George find some good friends. Even a tortoise can get lonely!

  2. P.S. Thanks for sharing the jacket flap! That was delightful!

  3. Patricia Tilton says:

    Thoroughlyy enjoyed your post — turtles and more turtles. I do believe you love them. Did you have a turtle as a child? 🙂 I think kids who enjoy animals, would delight in both these books. I found the information about the symbiotic relationship between species of great interest. Thought of you as I held a non-fiction book in my hand yesterday about a scientist and her bird — she conducted years of research and a strong relationship. She talked about the emotions of the birds, which I knew nothing about. Just as her bird died, it looked at her and said “I love you. You be good.” My eyes teared.

    • Joanna says:

      I do like tortoises and turtles, though have never had one as a pet. I do get why they are often the anthropomorphic animal of choice in children’s stories! That book sounds wonderful, Pat, and so moving. Was it for children? I am convinced that intelligence and developed emotions are not restricted to mammals.

  4. Lori says:

    Hoping my library has these!! 🙂

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