Thursday, October 15, 2009

Book Giveaway!!!! Only a few days left and a review of Owen & Mzee

Tick-tock.  Our Winter's Tail giveaway is coming to an end in a couple of days.  Leave a comment on this post or any of the book reviews dated after September 29th and your email address and you'll be entered to win the prize pack.  You can also find out more about Winter's story here.

Since the Hatkoffs have quite a successful information book series about inspirational animals, we're reviewing a few of their other books to help get you enthused for Winter's Tail.   And today I'll be focusing on Owen & Mzee.

Hatkoff, I., Hatkoff, C. & Kahumbu, P.  (2006).  Owen & Mzee:  The true story of a remarkable friendship.  New York: Scholastic Press.


PLOT SUMMARY:  During the flooding season, a young hippopotamus is separated from his pod.  Through rescue efforts, the Malindi people had the hippo, named Owen for one of his rescuers, sent to an animal sanctuary.  Young Owen immediately bonds with an old prickly tortoise named Mzee.  And although Mzee is at first reluctant to be friends with Owen, the two become inseparable.

As with the rest of this information book series, Owen & Mzee feature huge photos; one or two to a page.  (And the pictures where Owen and Mzee are together definitely have an "Awww!  Adorable!" factor).

The Hatkoffs do an excellent job of showing how unusual Owen and Mzee's relationship is, adding more meaning to the story and describing typical behavior of hippos and tortoises.

The story of these two animals can help provide hope that a (600 lb) youth can overcome tragedy or loss with time and the help of a friend.


Owen & Mzee can be used to trigger a discussion about the nature of friendship and how people from different ages can still have a lot in common.  Students could journal about some of their own friendships, how they met, how they have helped one another through difficult situations, ways that friends can be there for one another in the future.

Other options include researching African geography and flood seasons--which students can then compare to seasonal patterns they've experienced in their own community.  Students could also research animal imprinting, hippos, tortoises and their behavior patterns.  Students could also work on looking up news articles about Owen, Mzee and other famous animals.


"This is the true story of two great friends:  a baby hippopotamus named Owen and a 130-year-old giant tortoise named Mzee."

"Before the baby hippopotamus became known as Owen, he lived with his mother in a group, or pod, with about twenty other hippos."

"The villagers now saw only one hippopotamus in the sea--a baby without his mother, stranded on a sandy coral reef among the sea grass.  Tired and frightened, he was unable to reach the shore on his own."

"Owen scrambled from the truck directly to Mzee, resting in a corner of the enclosure. Owen couched behind Mzee, the way baby hippos often hid behind their mothers for protection.  At first, Mzee wasn't happy about this attention.  He hissed at Owen and crawled away.  But Owen, who could easily keep up with the old tortoise, did not give up."


P.S.  This book giveaway is sponsored by scholastic.  They approached me and asked if I would like to participate.  They also sent me a copy of Winter's Tail for me to review and keep.


  1. The turtle one looked the cutest out of the other ones other than Winter's Story. Did that sentence make sense?? probably not! But the whole "series" looks very cute.

    It is very nice of Scholastic to do this for you! And kind of random... or maybe not that random... but seems random. But also seems like a pretty big accomplishment to me. Having a publishing company pick you to help them! Or maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about. :o)

  2. It makes sense. I'm pretty sure Owen and Mzee was the first story they did.

    And they gave a lot of blogs the option to do giveaways. It's a huge publicity thing.



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