“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships • Picture book

by Catherine Thimmesh
Available now  Ages 4-8  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

“This remarkable photo book for children combines candid shots of unusual animal friendships with brief rhymes about the quality of friendship expressed in each picture. Also included is information about the animals and their setting, situation, and behaviors. Photos come from all over the world with many different zoos represented. This is a beautiful way to explore friendship, tolerance, and compassion.” - Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL
Story:  What makes a camel friends with a Vietnamese pig? Or a wild polar bear pals with a sled dog? In FRIENDS: TRUE STORIES OF EXTRAORDINARY ANIMAL FRIENDSHIPS, Catherine Thimmesh makes us wonder at the truth and mystery of unlikely animal friendships. Because the stories behind these friendships are true, not contrived, captured by photographers in many countries ranging from Siberia to Japan, they not only give readers insight into animals but challenge preconceived notions about compatibility. This book also expresses tolerance of differences and makes us look at the kindness of animals—and humans—a little differently.

Story behind the story:  Recently, I spoke with author Catherine Thimmesh and we were talking about how she put FRIENDS together and what kind of research was involved.  She shared this story with me:  "I dialed the Tobu Zoo in Japan, prepared to say "ohayoou gozaimasu" — the internet consensus for "hello" in Japanese. I couldn't speak the language, but still, I would happily babble like an idiot in my efforts to research an image for my new book. I love the interspecies animal pictures that occasionally hit the news and the web. Beyond the cuteness factor, I'm drawn to the truth — and the mystery — behind these striking images.  I wanted to create a book that was both a celebration of friendship and of tolerance. It's my thought that by showing the specifics (a piglet and a lion; a dog and an owl) the universals of friendship are truly revealed."

Summer 2011 IndieNext List

"Few books work with children as young as four and as old as nine, but this one does — and beautifully — with its two levels of text and photographs sure to engage every reader." — LLW for James Patterson's ReadKiddoRead

FYI:  All the review copies for this title have been sent.  Please check back and see the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say...  


Linda said...

What a fantastic book to read to students of all ages! I was thrilled with the book from cover to cover and give it a 5. It's a great book with a subtle message about getting along and tolerance. The poems that are interjected in between the pictures and stories are a bonus. Students can use this book as a prompt for writing poetry and expressing their feelings. I was also thinking about using it as part of a non fiction writing unit about animals.

Very inspirational and thought provoking.

Lisa said...

This is a wonderful book that has so many uses in the classroom. It could easily tie into learning about the theme of friendship or studying animals within a science unit. The book could also be used in writing as an example of text written in multiple genres (in this case narrative and poetry). I think students would find this book interesting because of the stories of animal friends and fun because of its use of poetry. The photographs to accompany each story are wonderful and I think these would captivate students as well. I am eager to share this book with my students. I would rate it a 5.

Anonymous said...

The photographs are definitely the big draw of this book. The animal pairings are fun and endearing. The simple lines about friendship are decent enough. The detailed captions describing the true story about the animal relationships were informative. Some of these animal 'friendships' were stretching the meaning of friends a bit, but the pictures made up for it. A necessary purchase? Maybe. Certainly will be used/adored by animal lovers.

Rating: 3/5

Heather Hart
Branch Librarian
Newport Beach Public Library

Anna-Lisa said...

The pictures in this book are great just to look at. The stories that go along with the pictures are wonderful. I like the messages about friendship and about tolerance. It's a fantastic message about how we can be friends with anyone.

Joseph R said...

A beautiful book that can be enjoyed by all ages. Great to use at the beginning of a school year to help children understand that we are all different, but we can still be friends. I loved some of the unusual and maybe less loveable animals used in this book. I give it a 5.

Anonymous said...

Loved this book. Extraordinary photographs paired with rhyming text - works on several levels; science, writing prompts, acceptance, tolerance, friendship. I especially appreciated the factual details of each photo - what the eventual outcome of the pairing was, positive or negative. 5 rating.