April 16th, 2016 ·
Review By JENNIFER KALI
Fans of Tarra and Bella will love this book. My six-year-old daughter and I loved reading it together. It tells the true story of an unlikely friendship between a baby hippo named Owen and a 130 year old giant tortoise named Mzee at an animal sanctuary in Kenya, illustrated by incredible photographs of the two together.
Owen was stranded after a storm and separated from his mother. My daughter and I loved reading about how an entire town bands together to rescue him and bring him to a nearby sanctuary as he is too young to survive in the wild alone. Owen is placed in Mzee’s habitat and immediately takes a liking to Mzee. Mzee takes a while to warm up to Owen, but within a few days the two are inseparable.
A friendship between a mammal and a reptile is very rare, but these two have quite the bond. The book posits a few reasons for their friendship, such as Owen needing someone to replace his missing mother. But in the end says that it doesn’t really matter if science can explain why these two are friends because the fact is that they are friends. The heart wants what it wants, and Owen’s heart wants Mzee and Mzee’s heart wants Owen.
Ages 4 to 10.
Craig Hatkoff·Interspecies Friendship·Isabella Hatkoff·Jennifer Kali·Nonfiction·Paula Kahumbu
April 14th, 2016 ·
Review By JENNIFER KALI
We watched “Free Willy” for our family movie night with our six-year-old daughter. I hadn’t seen this movie since it came out years ago. I was amazed at how strong the anti-captivity message is in this lovely family movie.
The movie shows viscerally how animals are taken from the wild, put into tiny enclosures, and treated as commodities. Willy is sad, scared, and misses his family.
The scene that best demonstrates aquarium life is a scene in which kids are yelling and pounding on the tank. We hear what Willy is hearing under the water and see him getting more and more upset until he finally rams the glass with his nose. I’m always amazed at the plethora of kid-friendly animal rights movies.
My daughter loved this movie. She laughed, she cried, and she cried some more. It was really helpful that we spent a week in Puget Sound this summer seeing orcas in the wild. She’s been kind of positive about zoos and aquariums in the past, despite our negative feelings toward them. After seeing this movie she now thinks the practice of putting wild animals in cages is deplorable. For now, that is, until her next field trip to the zoo….
Common Sense Media recommends this film for ages 6+. We watched it on Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime·Animals in Captivity·Captive Wildlife·Early Elementary·Family Movies·Jennifer Kali·Orcas·Streaming Movies·Whales·Wild Animals in Captivity
April 11th, 2016 ·
Review By HOMA WOODRUM
We received Achoo! Why Pollen Counts as a free review copy at our house, and my kids, age 5 and 7, could not wait to read it. I didn’t pre-read it, we simply sat down and dived right in.
Though I’ve reviewed books for Vegbooks about food allergies in the past, we are not strangers to seasonal and environmental allergies in our house. Both kids loved the inviting illustrations of Baby Bear and his forest friends and were fascinated to learn that pollen is a protein rich food. Even spiders eat pollen, while bees use it to make something called “beebread.” Both were new pieces of information for us!
Baby Bear learns all about pollen when, owing to his allergies, he wishes there was no pollen. This was very relatable because through learning more about the role pollen plays, he realizes that he doesn’t hate pollen (though there’s nothing wrong with being frustrated about being frustrated by it).
The book includes some informative details in the final pages as well as discussion points. Also included is a page to help understand allergies. It likens the immune system to a superhero to protect us but indicates that sometimes it gets confused. It also distinguishes between runny noses and more run-of-the-mill reactions and those that affect airways in a more significant way. “If this happens, you need to get medical help immediately,” the notes indicate.
The vocabulary is appropriate for the subject matter so it is probably best for ages 5 and up, though I think younger children can engage with the images and some of the information if read aloud.
Adaptations·Allergies·Bears·Bees·Early Elementary·Homa Woodrum·Human Body·Immune System·Plants·Pollination·Shennen Bersani·Spiders