Review by Jacque Gage

Everyone has heard that opposites attract.  Much is written about opposites.  Think about some “odd couples” you’ve read about.

In “love”, Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall, the 89 year old billionaire.  Bombshell Marilyn Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller.  Even Sonny and Cher.  Opposites attract.

In friendships, there is always Oscar and Felix, Andy and Barney, Bert and Ernie, Laurel and Hardy.  There are so many more we could name.  Opposites attract.

Songwriters write about it.  Take for instance, Paula Abdul’s song lyrics:

“…Try to fight it but I’m telling you Jack

It’s useless, Opposites Attract”.

Then, there are unlikely combinations of food preferences.  Everyone has heard of the odd combos people put with peanut butter.  I was an adult before I realized eating peanut butter/pickle sandwiches was weird.  It was normal for me! (Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…)  Opposites attract.

Even in science opposite attract.  It’s the opposite ends of a magnet that attract.  Don’t try to connect the south poles on two magnets, because it’s not going to work.  Opposites attract.

Enter today’s book.  “Unlikely Friendships” is about odd animal couples.  The book showcases 47 different unlikely animal duos which span six of the seven continents (even Antarctica!).  South America is not represented.

Each pairing is given four pages, of which one is a full-color, full-page picture.  The other three pages are devoted to the animals’ story plus other pictures. Scientific information about each animal — Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species, is included.  I have to confess, I skipped that part.

The pairings in this book run from a few animal combos one might not be surprised to read about to other friendships that transcend imagination — friendships between predator and prey, and animals with no reasonable reason to bond.

Take for instance, cat and bear, dachshund and piglet, elephant and dog, dog and koi, leopard and cow.  One of the most touching is between a macaque and a kitten.

Reasons these animals have bonded vary.  Some were orphaned and “mothered” by another species.  Others had a mate that died and they became depressed and found needed companionship.  One cat lived a separate life from a dog in the household until the dog needed a “seeing-eye-cat”.  When the dog died of old age, the cat never bonded with another household pet.

“Feeling good is what this book is about” according to the author.  She’s right.  This was a quick and enjoyable read.  Although it is written for adults, elementary students can read it with some help.

I took the book to my TREK tutoring session, and my 4th grade student enjoyed reading it with me, trading off reading at each paragraph.  Afterwards, she was ready to run down to the library to check it out.

If this topic interests you, also visit the website,  The website features reader-submitted photos of cute, but not “usual” pairs of animal friends.  Readers who enjoy animal books should read this.  You won’t experience an “unlikely friendship” with it!