When I was a wee pup, I lived in a heavenly puppy paradise in Florida. The place was called Southeastern Guide Dogs. There were lots and lots of pups there – all my brothers and sisters and cousins. We spent our time playing and wrestling and cuddling together. People were always coming to play with us and cuddle with us. Oh! It was heaven!
Then one day some people came and took me away from my family and my paradise. I flew on an airplane far away and ended up in Texas at a strange house with strange smells and no other puppies. There was a big dog who was very nice to me and he explained about what my new life was about to be like.
We had a fun day playing together, but when the nighttime came, I was carried into a cage. I was to sleep here. All by myself. Oh my! But wait! I could smell my brothers in that cage! My new Mom Person had put in a big towel that had my brothers and sisters smell all over it. A bit of my paradise. And there was a big soft creature in there that I could cuddle with. I was told that it was a gorilla. That gorilla became my sleeping buddy and I have him still.
It’s hard being taken away from your family.
We recently read a book about this very thing.
It was published by Penguin Young Readers in 2004
This is a non-fiction book suitable for Pre-school and up to adults.
Themes- friendship, endangered animals, family
Rickie is a baby chimpanzee living happily with her mother and family in the rain forest of Central Africa. One day her world is turned upside down when some men come and kill her mother and take Rickie away in a cage. She is put up for sale in a market. Poor, scared Rickie! But one day a kind man rescues her and takes her home with him where she discovers a true friend in a big dog named Henri. She sleeps with Henri, clinging to his fur like she did with her mother. She rides on his back, like she did with her mother. They become best friends.
Rickie eventually becomes too big to ride on Henri and the decision is made to send her to a sanctuary for orphan chimps where she makes many new friends of her own kind.
This is a lovely story about a very unlovely topic – illegal hunting and selling of endangered wildlife. The beginning of the story is a little scary and very sad. It made the Mom Person cry. But then it becomes a happy, hopeful tale. Mr. Marks’s illustrations are beautiful and full of emotion. It is a beautiful book.
Rickie and Henri is a true story and Rickie still lives at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Sanctuary in the Congo Republic.
Ms Goodall is a very famous lady who began studying chimpanzees in 1960. You can find out more about her and the Jane Goodall Institute at their website here.
A worthwhile class project might be to become a chimpanzee guardian through the Institute and learn more about the plight of these fascinating creatures.
You might also look into other unlikely friendships and talk about what being a friend really means. What makes a good friend? How does one be a good friend?
Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, brought to you by Susanna Leonard Hill. You might want to visit her blog for more fun picture books with resources to go with —
Here is a look at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary —
Have a great weekend — read a book with a friend!