A chance to enter another world and bring back a dream

Young Readers

April 02, 2006|By MARY HARRIS RUSSELL | MARY HARRIS RUSSELL,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Dreamhunter

Elizabeth Knox

Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship

Isabella and Craig Hatkoff and Dr. Paula Kahumbu; photos by Peter Greste

Scholastic / $16.99 / Ages 8-12

Photos of a baby hippo, orphaned by the December 2004 tsunami, who took up company with a 130-year-old giant tortoise caught the attention of many. What's likable about this book is that it's not syrupy but looks closely at how animals adapt to difficult situations. Owen the hippo was part of a pod living freely, near the eastern Kenyan coast, and Mzee the tortoise lived in an animal reserve north of that. The book doesn't pretend to have all the answers to why these two seemed to bond, and it keeps reminding us that there can be a gap between what we think we see and what's going on.

Mary Harris Russell, who teaches English at Indiana University Northwest, reviews children's books for the Chicago Tribune.

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