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Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom Paperback – June 28, 2011
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— New York Times Book Review
“The feel-good book of the summer—maybe the year—may very well be Unlikely Friendships.”
— USA Today
“Jennifer Holland documents one heartwarming tale after another of animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways.”
— Reader's Digest
“With aww-inducing photographs, the book highlights the most improbable animal connections.”
— National Geographic
About the Author
Jennifer S. Holland is a contributing writer for National Geographic. She has also written for, among others, The Discovery Channel, NPR, and The New York Times, specializing in science and natural history.
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The stories range from domestic dog and cat, cat and lizard, dog and goat tales to stories about a monkey in Indonesia who adopted a kitten he found hanging around, a sleek black bear and his similarly-attired cat pal and elephants, hippos and other befriending unlikely, often wee pals who might otherwise be lunch.
Each story is a couple of pages or so, accompanied by at least one picture of the animals in question.
Some stories seem like they could stand lengthening, or more info about the outcome, as they range from 'these animals were observed hanging out together' to 'these unlikely pals have lived together in a house for years.' Probably culled from other sources, but nice as a collection nonetheless. Not a deep read or anything, but if you like this sort of thing, it's a nice book to pick up and read a few stories at a time - also really nice to read to or with kids. Can spark nice conversations about differences and commonality, meaning of friendships, how animals have feelings too, etc.
Often, when a person is lacking in compassion, cruelty is commited out of ignorance - from a lack of education and understanding that animals have feelings. They can suffer and feel loneliness and depression just like you.
It is important to plant the seeds of kindness in children early, and to nurture their development as the child grows. One of the most power tools for preventing cruelty to animals by people lacking in natural compassion, is education. Children not only need to learn what they shouldn't do, but also what they can and should do. When children see that their pets are happy and loving, it will make the child feel good, too. This in turn will help the children care for their pets' feelings.
"Again, with all children--even older teens--keep in mind the importance of modeling appropriate behaviors. Our children do emulate us, even if they wouldn't admit it. If we treat animals cruelly or as unfeeling machines (as in factory-farming or puppy/kitten "mills"), our children will probably think that this is acceptable, or at least, normal. The more a child identifies with an adult, the greater an impact that person will have on the child--in both good and bad ways."
I will let the voices of the better of us speak for me:
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress (and the decency and morality of its leaders) can be judged by the way its animals are treated." --Mahatma Gandhi
"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals... In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow travelers in the splendor and travail of the earth." --Henry Beston (if anything, they are our betters; they live in the earth without causing all the damage to it that we do; they are not spiteful or mean out of hate; they don't cause fear and pain and death for pleasure or 'sport' as some human animals do.)
(They are of service to us in countless ways: as our ears, as our eyes, to assist the disabled, they protect us, they provide transport (the impetus for our level of civilization - after millions of years of subsistence - was the horse), they provide companionship, they detect cancer, they lower our blood pressure and our stress levels, they make repeat heart attacks less likely, ad infinitum. If all the bees disappeared from the earth, so would we.)
"Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission - to be of service to them wherever they require it." -- St. Francis of Assisi
"The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity." -- George Bernard Shaw
"The least that I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves." --Jane Goodall
"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will find that these are men who will deal likewise with their fellow man." --St. Francis of Assisi
"As you do unto the least of mine, so you do also unto me" --The Christ
Since people don't always understand when they are being cruel, adults need education, too. If you are not a teacher, please urge your local schools to integrate humane education into their curricula. If you are a teacher, bring humane education into your classroom. To help you, your local shelter may have outreach programs, education materials, camps, etc. You can also find plenty of humane ideas and activities at the Humane Education section, and on our children's websites, [...] and [...]
Each story that is shared will bring a smile to your face. From the Gorilla that adopts a cat to the dog that raises a pot-bellied pig. The pictures are truly inspiring and the stories bring them alive.
This is great little book to place on your coffee table or on the corner of your desk at work. People will love it. I have it on my desk at church and everyone who stops in to chat ends up looking through the book and finding it a fun diversion. Even the little kids that come by can't wait to take a look.
I keep this around to bring a smile to my face when things are going hard. I love animals and so this just was a perfect addition to my library.
The book is inexpensive, so that should tell you that the pictures aren't of glossy high definition quality. But frankly I was impressed at the good quality for the low price of the book. I don't think you will be disappointed.