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Owen the baby hippo and his mama were best friends. They loved to play hide-and-seek on the banks of the Sabaki River in Africa. That was all before the tsunami came and washed Owen's world away.
But after the rain stops, Owen befriends Mzee, a grayish brown tortoise. He plays with him, snuggles with him, and decides he just might turn out to be his best friend and a brand-new mama.
Inspired by the tsunami of 2004, acclaimed storyteller Marion Dane Bauer and celebrated illustrator John Butler depict this heartwarming true tale of healing, adoption, and rebirth -- with splendid illustrations and oodles of love.
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Marion Dane Bauer is the author of many books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor book On My Honor and the New York Times bestseller My Mother Is Mine. Her other titles include A Mama for Owen, If You Were Born a Kitten, Grandmother’s Song, and Thank You for Me! She has retired from the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults where she was the first Faculty Chair. She lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and can be reached at MarionDaneBauer.com.From School Library Journal:
PreSchool-Grade 1—The true story of the African baby hippo that was separated from his mother during the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 and then bonded with a giant tortoise is one that has endeared itself to many. This version is a bit too endearing. Bauer's symmetrical text gives the basic facts, compressing details in order to draw clear parallels between the hippo's activities with his mother and then with the tortoise. The author uses repetitive phrasing to convey the severity of the situation: "The rain fell and it fell and it fell. The Sabaki River rose and it rose and it rose." While this is a time-honored narrative device, when combined with Butler's soft-focus, anthropomorphic artwork, the effect is cloying and monotonous. The scenes, rendered in acrylic paint and colored pencils in a gray/brown/pale-lavender palette, feature animals that smile continuously, even during the storm. For strong visuals and a conceptually satisfying account, stick with the striking photographs and sensitive narrative provided in Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumbu's Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship (2006) and its sequel, Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship (2007, both Scholastic), reviewed in this issue.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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