Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship

This book was conceived by Craig Hatkoff and his seven-year-old daughter after they read a newspaper article about a baby hippo who was separated from his pod during the 2005 Indonesian tsunami.

Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship is the story of that hippo, who was left alone on a reef in Kenya. He was tired, frightened and unable to reach the shore on his own. Hundreds of villagers and visitors worked together to help the young hippo get safely to shore. He was offered a place to live at an animal sanctuary called Haller Park. The baby hippo’s journey from reef to shore to sanctuary was frightening; lots of people, noises, nets, vehicles and he was alone. His hippo family was gone. He arrived at the sanctuary weak and exhausted.

At Haller Park, the hippo was given the name Owen. He was put in an enclosure with bushbucks, monkeys and a giant solitary Aldabra tortoise named Mzee. As soon as Owen entered the enclosure he crouched behind Mzee, the way baby hippos often hide behind their mothers for protection. The next morning the hippo and the tortoise were still together, with Owen snuggling up against Mzee. In the protective presence of the 130-year-old tortoise, Owen calmed down, started eating and regained his strength.

This book is full of images of Owen’s journey to the sanctuary and life at the sanctuary with Mzee and the people who care for the animals at Haller Park. Children from kindergarten-age to fifth grade will enjoy this inspirational book.

One Tiny Turtle: Read and Wonder is the story of one Loggerhead turtle’s journey from hatchling to egg laying mother. We travel with her from nursery to stormy ocean, then to feeding grounds and finally, back to the beach she left behind many years before. The text is written in a poetic fashion that is fun to read aloud. In addition to the loggerhead story the book contains some general sea turtle facts, such as, “Fish breathe underwater, but turtles are reptiles and need to come up to the surface for air.” The playful text written by Nicola Davies and the painterly illustrations by Jane Chapman combine to make a book that could be called a work of art. One Tiny Turtle was published in 2001 by Candlewick Press. Eleven years later, when I am in a library I often see One Tiny Turtle pulled from the shelves and given a place of prominence. And during story times in the preschools and libraries I visit it is still often read. A statement to its popularity and timelessness. One Tiny Turtle will appeal to anyone who loves sea turtles, though it is geared toward children 5-8 years old.

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