Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom

Image of Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom
Book Number: 
Date Fred Read: 
May 2017
Fred's Rating: 
Total Pages: 
Workman Publishing

Jennifer S. Holland, a science and nature journalist, is a senior writer for National Geographic magazine who specializes in life science and natural history (reptilian, mammalian, avian, amoebic). This book was a NYT bestseller.

The Amazon website for the Kindle edition of this book is

Although I am reading the paperback version of this book, I chose the Kindle version for it covers in full the author’s 5-pp Introduction as well as a few pages of photos and stories. The home page has a very good summary (click on ‘Read more’). Then use the ‘Look inside’ option to read Amazon’s colorful Kindle preview.

With the above available, all I need to provide here is the additional excellent summary from the half-page Front and Back Flaps of the edition I have in hand:

“Real friendship knows no bounds, and it’s not only humans who need it. ‘Unlikely Friendships’ tells one story after another of animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways and thrive on the warmth, closeness, and trust that come with being true friends.

“Imagine a predator cuddling its prey. Or a bird befriending a mammal. Or a fish poking its nose out of the water to nuzzle a dog. Or a massive gorilla – the one named Koko, famous for her ability to communicate in sign language – embracing a tiny kitten.

“Science writer Jennifer S. Holland narrates each story, and also offers insights into these relationships. Sometimes there are plausible explanations: an orphan seeking comfort from an older animal; an adult yearning for a younger creature to nurture. Consider the lioness who befriended a baby oryx – unexpected, but not inexplicable. Sometimes a friendship is about need, as in the case of the blind Lab and her ‘seeing-eye’ cat. But sometimes it’s just a lovely mystery. How else can one explain the story of Owen the hippo and Mzee the tortoise, two notoriously surly creatures who became bosom buddies?

“Each story reveals the true power of friendship and, to some degree, the many forms of ‘love’ that seem to exist in the animal kingdom. Yes, scientists might scoff at that notion, but readers may feel a little differently about the world after they finish this book.”

However, although I'm a scientist, I have never scoffed over the unexpected (and usually for the good of human knowledge) things we can learn about the surprises we have yet to learn about many things in God's cosmic evolution, his biological evolution, and his spiritual evolution in the universe.

I have written the above when I have only read half of the 47 stories. Yet I’m certain this book deserves a five-star rating. There is an easy explanation for this: the book in my lap now isn’t mine – it is my son’s. He wants to give it soon to some friends with two young daughters. So I needed to act quickly.

My son showed this book to me this afternoon after we returned from the clinic. I haven’t been feeling well for the last month, so he correctly figured that what I needed today was a good pick-me-up book. But he underestimated how well it has affected me, for it is a great pick-me-up book. Enjoy it! Even better, enjoy it with a child by your side! This book should make a reader feel happily amazed that God’s non-human creatures can unexpectedly do better than many humans are able to do. Thinking about this, I need to repeat that I rate it at five stars, but now I need to add ‘think six stars!’

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