Owen and Mzee: The Language of Friendship

by Craig Hatkoff (Author)

Owen and Mzee: The Language of Friendship
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
Series: Owen and Mzee
The in-demand follow-up to the New York Times bestseller, OWEN & MZEE, the friendship that has touched millions around the world.

In this exciting follow-up to OWEN & MZEE, the New York Times bestselling story about an orphaned baby hippo named Owen and the 130-year-old giant turtle, Mzee, Craig Hatkoff explores the language of love, friendship, and nurturance that these two incredible creatures share with one another. This book traces their first year together, including their adorable playful ways and the unique "language" that they have developed.

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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Those who were captivated by "Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship" about the bond between a baby hippo orphaned by the 2004 tsunami and an adult tortoise living in the same Kenyan sanctuary will find this follow-up equally mesmerizing. Again, Greste's crisp color photographs reveal these inseparable animal companions at remarkably close range. A standout sequence of nine frames allows readers to observe one of the unique ways the pair communicates: the now two-year-old Owen, signaling Mzee to move to the left, nudges the 130-year-old turtle's left rear foot. The two also communicate in their own "language," a deep rumbling sound that is not intuitive to either species. The authors (a youngster, her father and the manager of the Kenyan park) do raise questions about how the friendship will progress, as Owen grows to his adult size of 7,000 pounds, and his caretakers worry that he could unintentionally harm Mzee. Nonetheless, readers of all ages will likely concur with the authors' observation: "No matter how things turn out, the story of their friendship will always remind the world that when you need a friend, one will be there for you." Youngsters will eagerly await the next chapter in this extraordinary companionship. Ages 4-8. "(Jan.)"

Copyright 2006 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review
K-Gr 4 "Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship" (Scholastic, 2006) chronicled the fascinating story of a baby hippo who was orphaned by the December 2004 tsunami and the bond he formed with Mzee, a 130-year-old Alhambra tortoise at a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. This sequel updates readers on the status of that friendship a year and a half later, particularly with regard to the way this unusual duo has learned to communicate with one another. They apparently call back and forth, making sounds that hippos and tortoises do not usually make. The authors honestly discuss the issues that will face these two friends in the future, as their caretakers become increasingly concerned that Owen could become a danger to Mzee as he continues to grow. Other problems and possible solutions are discussed. The text is clearly written and accompanied by numerous high-quality, full-color photos of this unique pair. Children captivated by the first book will be thrilled to discover this one, and enough background information is provided so that readers coming to the story for the first time will be comfortable. A first purchase for most libraries."Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ" Copyright 2007 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Craig Hatkoff
Craig Hatkoff is the co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival and of Turtle Pond Publications. Both Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship and Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship are New York Times bestsellers. He lives with his wife and their two daughters in Manhattan.

Isabella Hatkoff is the co-author of bestselling Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship and Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship with her father, Craig Hatkoff, and ecologist Dr. Paula Kahumbu. Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship was published in the spring of 2006 and became an international phenomonen. She lives in Manhattan with her family

Craig Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Juliana Hatkoff are also the authors of Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World and Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own. The Hatkoffs live in Manhattan.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
January 20, 2007
Owen and Mzee
Age Range
4 - 8 years
Christopher Awards
Winner 2008
Garden State Children's Book Awards
Winner 2010

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