The Asian elephants Precious and Baba, friends as calves in the wild, maintain their friendship during mutual captivity and then joyfully rekindle it after a long separation.
In the initial double-page spread, adult elephants are in the background, contentedly grazing against a lush landscape of tropical greenery, while in the foreground, two young elephants happily tussle in mud. Broad brush strokes delineate the grass, while the elephants sport details of skin and hair. The two baby elephants “forage and roam, curious and proud, under a beaming sun.” After a second serene depiction of life in the wild, the story changes: “Until one day, hunters capture the calves and send them away.” Although it is evident that one of the elephants is resisting, the captivity scene is appropriately low-key for young children. The text continues to sound nonjudgmental, and the art is never horrific. Yet readers learn that circus and zoo life is hard on elephants; that Precious and Baba endure both physical and emotional duress when they are separated; that sanctuaries can help. And, of course, that elephants never forget. The skillful art shows elephants in various positions and from different vantage points and varies human skin tones. The ending is a heartwarming tribute to the depth of elephants’ bonds—inspired by the true story of Gypsy and Wanda, according to the author’s note.
A sweet and sensitive encouragement of wildlife conservation. (selected sources) (Picture book. 4-8)