Monday, October 24, 2011

Nonfiction Monday is here today!

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday! I’m your host for today’s event. Please add your blog using the attached Mr. Linky's Magical Widget at the bottom of today’s post or add a comment with your blog info and I’ll add it to today’s page.

Unlikely Friendships: 47 remarkable stories from the animal kingdom by Jennifer S. Holland is (I can’t help myself) a lovely little book about the unusual bonding that sometimes happens between different animal species. The stories are sweet and charming with appealing pictures of animal pairs interacting. (Though my one quibble is that some of the pictures are not very sharp.) Maybe it’s just me getting all emotional reading about how cats and birds, dogs and cheetahs, deer and dogs, cows and leopards, bears and cats (and so on) have seemingly provided some emotional comfort for each other.

Some of the stories have recently been told in picture books, Tarra and Bella by Carol Buckley, Two Bobbies by Kirby Larson, Owen and Mzee by Isabella Hatkoff and With Love from Koko by Faith McNulty. There could be others, as well.

There are lots of ‘aaaahhhh’ moments here but I don’t think the author intended to solely charm us with heartwarming stories. She often recognizes that scientists would not always agree that animals do indeed bond or that animals have emotional lives, and that scientists might say that humans are projecting their own emotions onto these animals. She is able, on occasion, to offer alternative reasons why some animals are able to overcome instinct to form interspecies attachments. This is especially remarkable between prey and predator species.

One example I found particularly interesting was the ‘bond’ between a rat-snake and a hamster. It goes like this… said snake had fasted for a couple of weeks, not eating any of the food being offered. To stimulate the snake’s appetite, a live hamster was placed in its container. But after ‘tasting’ the meal (flicking the air with its tongue) the snake did not partake of the ‘meal’. Instead it seemed content to let the hamster get comfortable between its coils, snuggling down for a nap together. It’s possible that the snake was approaching hibernation reducing its desire for food. She does not indicate how long the relationship lasted.

But how much do scientists know about the internal lives of animals (other than us)? This question lead me back to a book I ran across a couple of years ago called 10 Questions Science Can’t Answer (Yet) by Michael Hanlon (500 HaT 2007). I revisited the chapter, Is Fido a Zombie? to see what Hanlon, (a science writer for British newspapers) had to say. This chapter focused more on animal intelligence and how sentient they may be. He looks at experiments conducted to test this and some of the conclusions that are being drawn. He extends his analysis into the realm of ‘morality’ as it’s becoming clearer that many animals do exhibit many thought processes and feelings that we humans can recognize as being similar to our own, leaving us with an ethical dilemma. Interesting reading.

Unlikely friendships will appeal to children of various ages. If you’re into using analogies or metaphors, this could work for examples for tolerance and acceptance between ‘odd’ or seemingly ‘incompatible’ pairs.

Nonfiction Monday:
Besides the sites listed with Mr. Linky's Widgets here are other blogs to check out.  Thanks Everyone for participating in today's event.

At Boys Rule Boys, Iron Guy Carl is reviewing The War to End All Wars by Russell Fredman.

Janet at All About the Books with Janet Squires is reviewing All Star!: Honus Wagner and the most famous baseball card ever by Jane Yolen.


GatheringBooks said...

Hello, thank you so much for hosting this week. The books all seem to be really interesting. I should check those out.

Here's our Nonfiction Monday contribution over at GatheringBooks:

Alex said...

Hi Tammy, Thanks for hosting Non-Fiction Monday this week.

MotherReader said...

I've got The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun over at MotherReader:

Thanks for hosting!

Iron Guy Carl said...

Hey Tammy,

I made the link abut must not have put the exact url to the book I'm reviewing. It's The War to End All Wars by Russell Freedman. The exact url is:

I hope this works. Thanks! Please email me at if it doesn't.

Roberta said...

Hello Tammy,

What an intriguing book you have highlighted today. I do think there is much we don't know about these things.

Thank you for hosting.

Janet S. said...

Thanks for hosting.
My selection is "All Star!: Honus Wagner and the most famous baseball card ever" written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jim Burke.

Lynn Rutan said...

At Bookends Cindy and I are reviewing When Bob Met Woody by Gary Golio.

Thanks for hosting.

Ana Maria Rodriguez said...

Thank you for having us at your blog today. The book you reviewed is close to the heart and I can't wait to understand how it happens. Or do we? :-)

Anastasia Suen said...

Thanks for hosting today!

Unknown said...

Thanks for hosting! My first nonfiction Monday link!

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