Two by Two, the Animals Made Friends

Thimmesh, Catherine. Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships. Houghton Mifflin, 2011.

Animal lovers of all stripes will want to paw this bright and soothing new book. Catherine Thimmesh, acclaimed author of such noteworthy nonfiction books as Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon, as well as Madam President and Lucy Long Ago: Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Came From, turns her talents to a younger audience in this eye-opening little marvel. Children who pick it up will not put it down until they’ve reached the last of the irresistible close-up shots of unusual animal friends.

The cover quickly induces a sense of wonder. When you see the tender image of a baby orangutan and a Sumatran tiger cub embracing, you know you’re onto something magical. Inside awaits a fascinating succession of photos of unlikely but real animal friendships. 

Enhancing each colorful full-page photo are a few simple, rhyming lines that focus on a particular quality of friendship depicted in the accompanying image. “A friend comforts … A pat,/ a hug,/ and a new friend is made;/ no longer alone,/ no longer afraid.” On the page to the right of those sweet words, we see a wide-eyed baby macaque gently touching a pigeon. Thimmesh provides a brief paragraph explaining the specific context in which the animals interacted — some fleetingly, some for months or even years.

Readers will meet a nuzzling camel and a Vietnamese miniature pig, a basset hound and an owl cozy on a couch, a playful polar bear and a sled dog, and young Humbug the badger and a friendly fox called Lulu. Photographers captured these engaging images in settings ranging from China to Cincinnati. Part of their power is the surprising nature of the animal relationships, but another factor is their intriguing implication for our own social world.

If these animals could learn to trust and enjoy each other’s company — despite huge, even frightening differences — what is to stop us from reaching out to those who seem different from us? It makes me wonder: Should every senator and member of Congress receive a copy of this? Every day?

For more true stories of unlikely animal relationships, try …

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

Suryia & Roscoe: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship by Bhagavan Antle.

Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joanne Rocklin
    Jul 23, 2011 @ 09:30:52

    Buying this book today! Thanks, Janice!

    Reply

  2. Janice Floyd Durante
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 13:00:18

    Let’s follow those animals, Rolf!

    Reply

  3. Rolf Rykken
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 12:40:49

    Janice: If these animals could learn to trust and enjoy each other’s company — despite huge, even frightening differences — what is to stop us from reaching out to those who seem different from us? It makes me wonder: Should every senator and member of Congress receive a copy of this? Every day?
    YES!!!!!

    Reply

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