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Unlikely Friendships

March 22, 2013

Eventually we all learn that sometimes friendship comes at the most unexpected time, and from the most unlikely places. Kids books, both fiction and non-fiction have some lovely examples of this. Today we’re sharing books which have a story of an unlikely friendship, and a great lesson to share.

One of our favorite picture books from our Spring list is RIBBIT, which inspired this post. We love it so much that not one, but two of our colleagues had something to share about it!

Picture Books

Ribbit by Rodrigo Folgueira, illustrated by Poly Bernatene


A group of frogs are having a pleasant morning in their pond when they notice a strange visitor: a large, pink pig that cries Ribbit! Offended that the pig may be making fun of them, the frogs enlist the opinion of the other animals in their community, including the wise old beetle that finally brings light to the situation when he poses that “Maybe he just wanted to make new friends.” In a fun, engaging story-time book (the words carry the interactive feel as the font sizes literally crescendo and decrescendo on the page), Rodrigo Folgueira discusses the importance of not jumping to conclusions and the fun that comes with seeking out a friend who is different. I loved it! –Bobbie

Why are the frogs so suspicious when a pig shows up in their pond, sits on a lily pad and starts to “Ribbit”? They just can’t understand it. More than just a friendship book, this is great look at accepting things at face value without suspicion. On a lighter note, it’s a perfect pre-school and early elementary school read-aloud! Who doesn’t want to imitate a pig as a frog? RIBBIT!-Deanna

You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown

You Will Be My Friend

Unlike the pig in Ribbit, who benignly sits with the frogs to make friends, Peter Brown’s bear in You Will Be My Friend is slightly more aggressive. Kids will giggle at her unsuccessful attempts to befriend all different animals by force!-Deanna

 An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni

An Extraordinary Egg

Three frogs discover an large white egg, and they decide it must be a chicken egg. Of course none of them has ever seen a chicken, so when the scaly, green creature emerges from the egg, they call  it chicken. A hilarious case of mistaken identity and acceptance. –Kate

Hey, Duck! by Carin Bramsen

Hey Duck

In an effort to make a new friend a fluffy duckling calls out “hey, duck”, in the direction of a cat. The duckling doesn’t realize that a cat is definitely not a duck, and the cat does his best to avoid the boisterous and very friendly duck. But time is the great conqueror and eventually the cat gives in and a meow is as good as a quack and friendship follows. –Kate

Scribbles and Ink by Ethan Long

Scribbles and Ink

Ink (the mouse) likes things to be clean and precise. Scribbles (the cat) is the opposite. But while there should be plenty of room for each of them to make their art without getting in each others way, or on each others nerves, THEY CAN’T MANAGE THAT!  Watch the battle of the brush and the pencil end with a mutual appreciation. –Sarah W.

Pirates vs. Cowboys by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by David Barneda

Pirates vs Cowboys

Burnt Beard & his crew swagger into Old Cheyenne, but Black Bob McKraw & his posse aren’t very hospitable. To top it off, the pirates & cowboys can’t understand each other-not until Pegleg Highnoon comes in and saves the day. With phrases like “fair scrub and a swish” and ‘mangy hornswagglers” kids & parents alike will enjoy this book that begs to be read aloud! –Dandy

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon


Stellaluna is a baby bat who one night is knocked from her mother’s embrace by an owl and ends up falling into a bird’s nest. Event though she doesn’t look exactly like them, the birds accept her and teach her their bird ways. Eventually Stellaluna is reunited with her mother, but the bond between the bat and birds remains, and they are friends forever.  Kate


Best Friends Forever by Amy Shields

Best Friends Forever NGeo

National Geographic Kids brings readers the first in a series of four books that explore unexpected animal bonds. In this book you’ll meet four unlikely pairings, including Billy and Lilly. Billy the boxer adopted Lilly the goat when she was abandoned by her mother. Billy and Lilly are rarely apart since Billy has taken on the role of Lilly’s protector, caretaker, and constant companion. Coming in July 2013.

 Owen and Mzee by Craig Hatkoff and Peter Greste

Owen and Mzee

When Owen was stranded after the Dec 2004 tsunami, villagers in Kenya worked tirelessly to rescue him. Then, to everyone’s amazement, the orphan hippo and the elderly tortoise adopted each other. Now they are inseparable, swimming, eating, and playing together. A remarkable story of one joyful outcome after a tragedy.

 And for the grownups and older readers:

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

Unlikely Friendships

“Written by “National Geographic “magazine writer Jennifer Holland, “Unlikely Friendships” documents one heartwarming tale after another of animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways. A cat and a bird. A mare and a fawn. An elephant and a sheep. A snake and a hamster. The well-documented stories of Koko the gorilla and All Ball the kitten; and the hippo Owen and the tortoise Mzee.”

From picture books to books for older readers, the animal kingdom gives us a reason to smile with stories like these. What’s your favorite story of an unlikely friendship?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 22, 2013 8:08 am

    I’ve read Unlikely Friendships – it’s adorable – and now I want to read the rest of the books you listed.

  2. March 22, 2013 11:11 am

    See “Oh, Joy!” by Wassily Kandinsky. A canvas of a huge purple/cerulean gorilla and a pure canary yellow bird perched on his shoulder.

  3. March 22, 2013 6:54 pm

    We have several of these books at home, but the rest look great! I love books about odd friendships. Thanks for these reviews!


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