Transcending Differences: Interspecies Friendships in Children's Books

shelved under Children's Books

I never tire of the stories and photos about unusual animal pairs — the momma dog who adopted the fawn, or the tortoise and the baby hippo who became best friends. So I guess it should come as no surprise that among my favorite children’s literature are stories on friendships so strong that they transcend species lines. Here's my pick of the litter.


Horton Hears A Who!

by Dr. Seuss

When Horton says, "An elephant's faithful, 100 percent," he's not just referring to his fidelity to other elephants. In Horton Hears a Who, Dr. Seuss' lovable tusker befriends microscopic creatures who live in Whoville, a town the size of a dusk speck. His bravery and commitment to his new friends are an admirable model for all of us — and they teach an important lesson about standing up for the defenseless.


City Dog, Country Frog

by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J Muth

Frog and dog don't just rhyme, it turns out they make wonderful friends! But just as people and dogs don't live the same lifespan, so too do City Dog and Country Frog find out that the end of the seasons means the end of their time together. Happily, spring brings City Dog a new friend in this beautifully illustrated bittersweet tale.


Pete & Pickles

by Berkeley Breathed

A lonesome pig befriends an elephant who has escaped from the circus in this unlikely love story. The illustrations alone make this book one of my favorites, but readers can also delight in the way the author brings the old saying "opposites attract" to new extremes. Needless to say that humor looms large in this work from the creator of the comic strip "Bloom County."


Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends

by Carol Buckley

The founder of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee recounts the true story of a sweet friendship between a stray dog and a retired elephant who once starred in movies and television. When Bella the dog is injured, the elephant Tarra stays with her until help arrives, and later tries to visit her as she recuperates indoors. My daughter loves the photographs, which captured the entire story as it unfolded.


Perfect the Pig

by Susan Jeschke

And don't forget about relationships between people and other animals! I'm thinking beyond the classic images of a boy and his dog, or the cat lady down the street. In Perfect the Pig, a single urbanite named Olive befriends a flying pig, lovingly cares for him, paints his portrait, and protects him from the ugly parts of life. After Perfect gets lost in a storm, Olive is afraid she's lost him forever, but the two unlikely friends are reunited in the end.


Granny Gomez & Jigsaw

by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Scott Magoon

In another touching tale of porcine-human friendship, Granny Gomez & Jigsaw celebrates meeting friends on their own terms. When Granny Gomez's little piglet Jigsaw grows up, she builds him an elaborate barn with all the amenities. But she doesn't just stay in her house — the separation is unbearable for the duo. Instead, she joins him in the barn.