Review By CAROLYN M. MULLIN
Unlikely animal friendships has been a popular theme on Vegbooks, as can be seen with the reviews of Owen and Mzee, Tarra and Bella and Dogs Have the Strangest Friends. Author Catherine Thimmesh brings another compilation to this burgeoning genre with Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships.
But what sets Thimmesh’s work apart from others is that: 1) she speaks to two different audiences, and 2) is equally concerned with conveying the idea of what it means to be a friend as she is to retelling the animals’ stories. With the preschooler in mind, Thimmesh writes simple, catchy prose to detail what friendship involves: putting spots and stripes aside, they comfort, connect, snuggle, help, play, and protect. For example, for the “Help” theme she pictures a toad giving a mouse a ride across a flooded street following a monsoon and a sickly badger and fox who found joy in one another’s company at a wildlife sanctuary in England:
|A friend helps…||No matter|
|A boost,||if eyes|
|a lift,||are black|
|a ride piggyback;||or gold,|
|a friend is someone||friends help each other|
|who picks up the slack.||when sadness takes hold.|
Below each poem, older readers will find a detailed paragraph explaining the pair’s history and how it attests to the subject of friendship. This is a sweet and sincere book with beautiful photography and many applications – as a lesson on character building, tolerance and kinship; a novel gift to a friend; or a coffee table addition for guests to peruse.