An unusual duo finds a sense of home and purpose on Urbigkit's Western ranch.
Roo and Rena (a wild donkey and canine runt) learn to protect their herd of motherless lambs through bonding and socialization. Each relates to their young charges in her own way; Roo frolics with the group, while Rena first grooms the babes she protects. Initially wary of each other, the pair develops a united front when a ram intrudes on their territory. Maturation affects not only the growing sheep; it also alters the guardians' work assignments. Overall, the matter-of-fact tone describes authentic behavior, though, occasionally, the voice gushes discordantly (“the orphans were growing into beautiful adults”). Clear photographs emphasize interactions up close: In a moment of spontaneous affection, Rena gently nestles her paw against the burro's face. Though the layout is nothing exceptional, crisp shots capture each slight nuance in nonverbal communication. The use of perspective highlights shifts in time; initially, Rena resembles those she supervises (slim in stature with her fluffy, white coat) until the following spring, when she towers over the flock's newest additions.This snapshot of animal dynamics presents a rugged picture of one surprising friendship. (author's note, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-8)