Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Unlikely Friendships" By: Jennifer Holland Review

"Unlikely Friendships"
By: Jennifer Holland

Synopsis from
     Written by National Geographic magazine writer Jennifer Holland, Unlikely Friendships documents one heartwarming tale after another of animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways. A cat and a bird. A mare and a fawn. An elephant and a sheep. A snake and a hamster. The well-documented stories of Koko the gorilla and All Ball the kitten; and the hippo Owen and the tortoise Mzee. And almost inexplicable stories of predators befriending prey—an Indian leopard slips into a village every night to sleep with a calf. A lionness mothers a baby oryx.

     Ms. Holland narrates the details and arc of each story, and also offers insights into why—how the young leopard, probably motherless, sought maternal comfort with the calf, and how a baby oryx inspired the same mothering instinct in the lionness. Or, in the story of Kizzy, a nervous retired Greyhound, and Murphy, a red tabby, how cats and dogs actually understand each other’s body language. With Murphy’s friendship and support, Kizzy recovered from life as a racing dog and became a confident, loyal family pet.
My Thoughts:
     I loved this book...absolutely loved it. Right after I write this quick review, I am going to purchase a copy for myself. I originally had my library buy this book because I thought it would be a good program book, and boy is it wonderful!
     There are 47 stories in it of "unlikely" friends. Dogs and Cats, a hippo and a turtle, a monkey and a dove just to name a few. Within each mini chapter explaining the friendship, there is a full size color picture of the friends. I have added a few to this post so you can smile today, because it definitely made me smile!
     I plan on showing this book, along with the pictures, at a program called "Unlikely Friendships" and talking about these animals. I do tons of programming at nursing homes and I think this is the perfect program material. Who doesn't love animals...and who doesn't love animals being friends?
      My favorite story is about an Asiatic Black Bear and the black cat. Basically (the author tells it much better) one day zoo keepers went into this grumpy old bear's enclosure and found this cat. She just showed up and they have no idea how she got there. The bear had been pretty onery and she calmed down with the cat. They shared naps, spent time together, and the bear became very protective of her. The cat and the bear still live together at the Berlin Zoo. The cat can come and go as she wants, but she always comes back to her bear friend. {Insert awwww's here!}
     There are so many heartwarming stories in this book. As I was reading it, I got tears in my eyes a few times. I'm not lying, it was pretty emotional yet very touching. Excellent pictures and wonderful stories, this is a book great for any reader at any age!

Mausschen (The Black Bear) and Muschi (The Black Cat) at the Berlin Zoo!


  1. I ordered this book for my library too. I only glanced through it when it arrived but it is so adorable. I will have to read it cover to cover sometime. Great review!

  2. It's a wonderful, wonderful book. I've been using it as a basis for a nursing home program, and they love it too! :) Animal friends, what could be better??

  3. In animals, we can see less tainted versions of ourselves. And yes, animals and friendship are quite an awesome combination!

  4. This looks soo good! I will have to remember it the next time I am at the library. You are quite the busy blogger! You inspire me!

  5. This is a beautiful book, and well-written, the photographs are amazing, some are just breathtakingly beautiful. It is worth purchasing for the cover photograph alone. The stories are incredible. However, I did notice that a previous reviewer recommended this as a gift for children. I have to say that this may not be a book for sensitive children. One story is about a lioness who (unbelievably) adopts a baby Oryx, caring for it as if it were her own cub. As she is resting, weak with starvation from refusing to leave it, the Oryx wanders off, when a male lion "snatched it up". She "sniffed the blood of her baby in the grass" and helplessly watched the male "devour it". This story is a miracle, I wish it didn't have such a graphically violent description of the fate of this poor creature. I can appreciate that it is not all "fluff", but for sure this may not be appropriate for children.