Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a remarkable friendship

Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a remarkable friendship

Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, Dr. Paula Kahumbu
Photographer: Peter Greste
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 and up
Scholastic, 2006   ISBN: 978-0439829731

Many people have heard about the terrible human suffering which was caused by the tsunami which hit the Indian Ocean region on December 26th, 2004. What some people have not thought about is that many animals were also traumatized by this horrific event. One of these animals was a baby hippo who was happily living along the Kenyan coast before the tsunami hit. After the rising water had subsided the baby was alone, the rest of its pod having disappeared. The baby was stranded on a sandy coral reef it needed to be rescued quickly before it got sick and died.

The local villagers got together and after a few failed attempts they managed to catch the frightened baby hippo and bring it to shore. They named the hippo Owen after one of his rescuers and they contacted a nearby animal sanctuary asking for help. The manager, Dr. Paula Kahumbu, of the sanctuary immediately agreed to take Owen in.

When Owen arrived at the sanctuary he was exhausted and very upset. His handlers put him in a nice large enclosure with Mzee, a 130 year old giant Aldabran tortoise. Usually Mzee was not terribly friendly but he quickly took to Owen and Owen seemed to gain much comfort from the large slow moving tortoise. The two became fast friends and an incredible story was born.

In the aftermath of what was a terrible natural disaster, the story of this unlikely and heartwarming friendship touched the hearts of people all over the world. With delightful color photographs throughout and written in a style which will appeal to readers of all ages, this is a book which families will turn to again and again.