Looking for inspiration? If you've gotten jaded by the human variety, you might consider animals as a source for stories of warm-hearted friendships, survival against all odds and courage in the face of danger.
Thanks to the Internet and picture books, most of us know the amazing true story of Owen and Mzee, a baby hippo and an ancient tortoise, who bonded after the Asian tsunami. But there's more.
"Winter's Tale: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again" by Juliana, Isabella and Craig Hatkoff is the true story of a baby dolphin that lost its tail after being entangled in the ropes of a crab trap. The story of her rescue and rehabilitation is riveting and does feature some human heroes. These people include the fisherman who freed her from the trap, the volunteers and trainers, and the man and his team who designed a prosthetic tail.
The dolphin is the real hero. As the authors say, "Winter's uplifting spirit and her resilience have helped her adjust and make the most of every situation. ... As champion, inspiration, and friend, Winter is one little dolphin who gives people hope and shows us that anything is possible."
For everyone from age 6. Even younger children love to hear the story and have it explained.
"Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle" by Maj. Brian Dennis expands the concept of friendship beyond most definitions.
Nubs was the leader of a pack of wild dogs, barely surviving in the Iraqi desert. He had never had a person or a home of his own, and his ears had been cut off (thus the name "Nubs") to make him a dog of war.
He and Dennis bonded immediately. More than once, when Dennis changed location, Nubs managed to follow through the desolate climate, somehow eluding wolves and wild dogs.
It's against the rules for Marines to have pets. Nubs got busted. The rest of this amazing story documents the events and generosity that made it possible for Nubs to travel to be with Dennis in the United States. As the book says, of all the miracles "... The bigger miracle may be that this dog of war chose to become a dog of peace."
For children ages 6-10.
"Dog Heroes: A Story Poster Book" by Karl Meyer would cause even cat lovers to fall in love with dogs. Each breed of dog is featured with its own full-colored poster and stories about the breed.
As the public is pummeled by one breaking scandal after another, it's tempting to believe that our heroes have gone to the dogs.
Actually, our heroes can be the dogs -- and other animals as well.
Contact Fran Hawk at firstname.lastname@example.org.