A scientist highlights elephant family values in this rare glimpse of a newborn’s first season.
“Family is very important to elephants,” notes O’Connell (Elephant Scientist, 2011), taking advantage of a serendipitous birth in a wild herd to observe and describe how adorable little “Liza”—“Even her belly and toenails are pink”—is nurtured and protected by her mother and other family members through her first few months. Reinforcing that message, the color photos almost without exception catch Liza posing beneath, or even leaning against, obviously attentive older elephants as the herd travels across the Namibian plain to a water hole for a drink and a refreshing mud bath. The physical birth itself isn’t described or shown, and the author covers the natural hazards that wild elephants face only in general terms (even the one photo showing elephants being tracked by lions has been artfully blurred). Nevertheless, her accounts of elephant growth, social behavior, and environmental and human challenges are both detailed enough to satisfy demanding young naturalists and easy for younger general readers to understand.
A fetching portrait, from a researcher who has studied these animals for many years and plainly cares for them deeply. (fact page, afterword) (Informational picture book. 6-8)