Owen & Mzee: Language Of Friendship by Isabelle Hatkoff

Summary: For somewhat older readers than Marion Dane Bauer's A Mama for Owen (2007), this book updates children on its famous subjects through crisp, immediate photos taken at the Kenyan refuge they call home. The same complicated supporting cast is featured in this book, including a father-daughter team; a naturalist from the refuge; and photojournalist Greste, whose photos here are more varied, abundant, and consistent in quality than before. Along with assuring children that the bond between Owen and Mzee is "stronger than ever," the authors chronicle the animals' system of communication, involving nudges, nips, and even a special kind of call. Libraries that own the first title will certainly want to add this title; those that don't may wish to purchase just this one, which gives the necessary context and duplicates some elements from the earlier book, while extending the information--through references to naturalists' concerns about Owen's need to interact with other hippos, and about Mzee's safety as his companion grows to his 7,000-pound size--in a way that moves beyond the pat, heartwarming aspects of the incident to ask fascinating questions about animal behavior. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Classroom Implications: Kids will be begging for a sequel if they read the original book about Owen and Mzee. This is a great book to have on hand for follow up readings kids may want to do during independent reading. It also makes a great book to read aloud to children if the level of text is too difficult for the readers. It is a nonfiction picture book that adds depth and emotional feeling to the nonfiction genre.


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