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A MAMA FOR OWEN by Marion Dane Bauer


by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by John Butler

Age Range: 5 - 7

Pub Date: March 27th, 2007
ISBN: 0-689-85787-X
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The story of the baby hippopotamus named Owen who adopted Mzee, a century-old tortoise, as his mother, caught the world’s imagination after the tsunami of 2004. Here, veteran author Bauer makes a sentimentalized version of the tale. Owen loves to play hide-and-seek with his mama, but the tsunami washes away all he knows and all those who know him. When he sees the giant tortoise, which seems to be the same color as his mama, Owen snuggles down next to him. He follows Mzee, swims, eats and plays hide-and-seek with him. Butler’s acrylics-and-colored-pencil pictures are awash in pale and shadowy or rosy and golden tones, and the pictures give the animals soft and human expressions without quite anthropomorphizing them. The story is dramatized more fully, although with almost no words, in Jeanette Winter’s Mama (2006), and told with photographs and a fine narrative text in Owen & Mzee (2006), by Craig Hatkoff and his daughter Isabella. (Picture book. 5-7)