A Mama for Owen

by Marion Dane Bauer (Author) John Butler (Illustrator)

A Mama for Owen
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Rise and Shine
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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School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 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"

Copyright 2007 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

I love it

Marion Dane Bauer
Marion Dane Bauer is the author of many books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor book On My Honor and the Coretta Scott King Book Illustrator Award winner The Stuff of Stars. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, and can be reached at MarionDaneBauer.com.

John Wallace's formal training was not in illustration, but rather theology, which he received at University of Cambridge. However, he always loved drawing, and one of his early jobs was as a newspaper cartoonist. In his children's book illustrations, he is particularly inspired by what he calls "the gooniness" of young schoolchildren. John lives in Broadstairs, England.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Simon & Schuster
Publication date
March 20, 2007
Rise and Shine
BISAC categories
JUV029000 - Juvenile Fiction | Nature & the Natural World | General
JUV002160 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Mammals
JUV002240 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Turtles
Library of Congress categories
Parental behavior in animals
Indian Ocean Tsunami, 2004
Delaware Diamonds Award
Nominee 2007 - 2008
Volunteer State Book Awards
Nominee 2009 - 2010

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