icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Animal Families, Animal Friends

Animal Families, Animal Friends (NorthWord Books for Young Readers) is all about how animals work and play together, how they help one another and keep each other safe.

I got the idea for this book from an article I read in a science magazine. It talked about how scientists, who used to focus on how animals compete in nature, are now studying how they coexist peacefully and even help each other.

I decided to write a book for children on the subject. I had lots of fun doing research for this book. I went the the library first and read about all sorts of animals. Then I made my choices based on my reading and my own experience. I love the sound of loons calling at night on a Maine lake. I watched beavers build a lodge on a stream in the Maine woods. I watched dolphins swim dive alongside my sailboat in California. I visited Mission Wolf, a wonderful wolf refuge in Colorado. I saw prairie dogs in the Badlands of South Dakota.

Some of the animals I haven't seen in the wild -- elephants, chimpanzees, caribou, emperor penguins. But I read books and watched videos to learn how they live together. Who can watch the film March of the Penguins and not fall in love with them?

I used the internet to listen to the sounds these animals make. And I made a collection of stuffed animals and puppets for my school presentation of Animal Families, Animal Friends.

Now I'm having a wonderful time visiting schools, libraries, and even a zoo to talk about the animals in my book. A highlight of these visits, was a few days spent in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, speaking to children whose town was hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. These children, their families, and their communities have given us all a fine example of how to live together and help each other.

Here’s a few things you’ll read about in my book.

o Beaver mothers and fathers work together to build a house for their families. They chop down trees with their teeth to build a beaver lodge.

o A father emperor penguin stands around and keeps his mate's egg warm for three months. He doesn't eat or drink anything until his baby penguin hatches.

o Elephant families love gigantic family reunions. When one of their relatives comes home from a trip, they all flap their ears, twist their trunks together, and turn round and round in circles.

o All the honeybees in a hive are brothers and sisters, except the Queen Bee who is everyone's mother. The brother drones sit around loafing, while the sister workers do all the work. They build the hive, keep it clean, and fly for miles to find the nectar and pollen to make the honey that feeds everyone.