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Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom by Jennifer S. Holland (2011)

Have you ever heard of a dachshund nursing a piglet or a hippo and a tortoise lying side by side? This book features amazing stories of bonds between members of different species. Touching color photographs enhance the stories.

Jennifer Holland wonders “perhaps the need for a good friend is not just a human thing after all.” I especially enjoyed the story about Owen, a 600-pound baby hippo that survived a deadly tsunami in Kenya, and was put in a sanctuary with Mzee, a 130-year-old giant tortoise. Owen began learning tortoise ways, such as chewing on grass and being active during the day rather than the night. He licked Mzee’s face as the tortoise rested his head on Owen’s belly. At night they slept side by side, meaty torso against timeworn shell.

To see if this book is available check here and for more books by Jennifer S. Holland .

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (2008)
All animal lovers should read this book! It is narrated by Enzo, who is a dog. You may need a box of tissues, particularly at the end, but this is a lovely novel which explores the beauty of love and family relationships.

Check out the book trailer for Racing in the Rain below.

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean (2011)
Did you know that the original Rin Tin Tin was very nearly the greatest, most favored star of the silent movie era? Did you know that he was found as a puppy on a battlefield in France by a young American soldier named Lee Duncan? Duncan brought his well trained German Shepherd back to his native California where he soon began trying to get his dog into the movies.

Rin Tin Tin and his offspring starred in the movies, made countless public appearances and was again a star in the early days of television. Orlean explores the dog, his myth, and the many interesting people who surrounded Rin Tin Tin. She also gives you the history of the German shepherd breed and the early days of both television and the movies.

Here is a clip of Rin Tin Tin

Spotlight: Man’s Best Friend

Spotlight: Man’s Best FriendWaiting for Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean (2011)? Try one of these classic stories about man’s best friend.

Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight (2003) is the classic story of a beloved collie, sold by his impoverished family, who makes his way back home to his boy. Jack London's The Call of the Wild (1981) is another story of loyalty. Buck the dog is rescued from a brutal existence as a Yukon sledge dog by John Thornton, to whom he becomes devoted. The Incredible Journey (1996) is another story, this time two dogs and a cat, that make their way over hundreds of miles of Canadian wilderness to find a home. Roger Caras’ Treasury of Great Dog Stories (1987) brings together stories by such well known authors as Mark Twain and Stephen Crane.

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson (2010)
As a dog lover, I’m often drawn to books in which a dog is a featured character. I’m glad that this one caught my eye. It’s an engaging story about a wealthy businessman who “snaps” one day while at work and suddenly loses just about everything in his life. With the help of a rescue dog, he starts to turn himself around and appreciate what is really important in life. The story is told from both the main character’s point of view, as well as the dog’s perspective. Entertaining, insightful, and heartwarming.

Looking for more feel good books, check out our list of Gentle Reads.

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey (2010)

“It must have some kind of teeth, and it wasn’t shy about using them.”---A description of a nightmarish monster? No. Instead, it’s a tai chi master...snail. This surprising, lovingly crafted homage to a snail, written by the seriously ill and bed-ridden Bailey whose friend one day brings her a wild snail in a flowerpot for her bedside, delighted me with Bailey’s observations of her new companion. She finds many parallels between her life and the snail’s, making this book meaningful and moving. Although the denouement seemed a bit rushed, I found it an easy read and enjoyed the captivating little quotations and haiku poetry about snails that introduced the chapters. Who would have thought? Four ½ stars.

Check out the YouTube video about this book.

The Grand Escape by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

The Grand Escape by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (1993)

Marco and Polo, two 4-year-old blue tabbies who are brothers, escape their home to explore the outside world and go on adventures. They end up meeting a cat called Texas Jake, who introduces the brothers to adventures called the Club of Mysteries.

It is a wonderful story and parts are scary, sad, and dangerous. Good book for tweens to read. Two thumbs up!

Take a sneak peek at this fun book and learn more about the author.

American Buffalo by Steven Rinella

American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon by Steven Rinella (2008)
When adventure writer Rinella wins a lottery to hunt and kill one buffalo in the wilds of Alaska, the story begins. Rinella has long had a fascination with the American Buffalo. As the story of his hunt proceeds, he stops along to the way to inform us on the natural history of the buffalo, its meaning in Native and European American culture, and its current existence. The adventure aspect of Rinella’s story is amazing. What some people will go through and call it fun! The history of the buffalo and the parallel history of America were fascinating. This is for anyone who likes adventure or natural history written for the interested lay person.

Read the USA Today review and learn more about the author and his adventure.

Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper (2009)
A 3-week-old cat had surgery to have his eyes removed because they were infected. He was abandoned until a lady named Gwen adopted him to care for and love him. Homer was playful with his other sibling cats and Gwen taught him how to move around to find his food. He grew quickly with a giant heart and learned to be friendly with other people. Homer was known to be fearless.

Read an excerpt from the book, visit the author's website and watch the author discuss this amazing cat on YouTube.

A Bedside Book of Beasts by Graeme Gibson

A Bedside Book of Beasts by Graeme Gibson (2009)
Gibson, a Canadian novelist has compiled poetry and myth, fairy tale and folklore, sacred texts and travelogues into a cleverly illustrated book. Far from a merely pretty survey of the animal kingdom, it is a book that delivers the disquieting message about a delicate balance disturbed and provides a thought-provoking collection of anecdotes about the human relationship with wild animals.

Exquisite, full-color reproductions of beast-themed drawings, paintings, and woodcuts, ranging from ancient to modern illustrate each entry, making this book more of an experience than just an interesting read.

Listen to the author read from his book or  read an excerpt from the book.

Rescue Ink by Denise Flaim

Rescue Ink by Denise Flaim (2009)
What do 10-plus tattooed bikers, a houseful (literally) of cats, and sweet-natured pit bulls have in common? Read Rescue Ink! Most readers will have a hard time making it through the stories of abuse, but you’ll find out how it’s great having these “inked angels” on the side of the animals. Watch the new television series.

Visit the Rescue Ink website and read reviews at Amazon.com.

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper (2009)
This is an endearing book about an abandoned two-week-old kitten with a severe infection that took his sight. Gwen, the vet’s client, agrees to see the kitten, falls in love with him, and takes him home. Since Homer was named after the blind poet of the Greek epic, Odyssey, each chapter starts off with a quote from that poem. Gwen tells a humorous, touching story of life with Homer. Homer doesn’t let his “handicap” stop him. His senses of hearing and smell are enhanced. He is a bundle of energy, curious and affectionate. Find out how the two established female resident cats adjust to their new little brother. Read about how Homer enriches Gwen’s life and those who meet him (including her parents who were professed dog people). Gwen and Homer lived in New York on September 11, 2001. The book has an upbeat ending.

You might also enjoy these feline tales: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron and An Unlikely Cat Lady: Feral Adventures in the Backyard Jungle by Nina Malkin.

Read an excerpt and visit the author's website.

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn (2009)
If you like mysteries, love dogs, and have a sense of humor, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s a quick, easy read with an interesting plot and a cast of intriguing characters. Getting to know the characters and seeing the plot unfold from a dog’s perspective is quite entertaining. Chet, the dog, is owned by, and partner to, Bernie, a private investigator. This is the first of hopefully more Chet and Bernie mysteries. I’ll be looking for the next one to be published.

Visit Chet the dog's blog.

The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell

The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell (2008)
The pig did it and he REALLY did! The fat porker caused the characters to get into turmoil and...LOVE! Set in Ireland's West coast, this novel will bring a smile to your face.

Read reviews at Amazon.com and EW.com.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (2008)
This is a must read for every dog lover! It’s a touching and inspiring story narrated by a dog named Enzo. He tells funny, and often sad, tales of his family from his perspective. When you think about it, a family dog hears lots of things that many people do not. After all, people will talk about anything in front of a dog! And, as Enzo says, dogs are great listeners – they don’t interrupt, or make comments about what is being said. He also learns a lot from watching TV channels such as the Discovery and History Channels.

Enzo's owner is a race car driver. Although I’m not a fan of racing, I appreciated Enzo's insights into the principles of racing and how they relate to life in general. I must warn you...there are emotional, heartbreaking moments that made me cry. But it sure made me look at my own dogs in a whole new light!
--Denise

This is a story from the perspective of a dog who is dying. He reflects back at his life and his loved ones – both good and bad experiences.


Visit the author's and book's website, read reviews at Amazon.com and check out the reading guide.
--Judy