At an elephant orphanage in Kenya, a rescued baby grows from shy girl to leader of her pack.
Wildlife photographer Ellis documents the growth and ultimate release of the calf that keepers name Natumi and seven other orphaned baby elephants raised with her at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust until they are no longer milk-dependent. His clear images will help readers visualize their daily routine: bottle feedings, bathing in mud puddles, and both soothing and playful activities with their human keepers. An early photograph shows the tiny, shy calf hiding behind a keeper's legs. In most of these pictures, the eight are indistinguishable. Natumi’s transformation to pack leader happens offstage; readers have to take the author's word that she lags behind and later leads. A simple, expository text leaps over nearly three years of growth to describe their return to the wild. (Actually, the elephants are released to a rehabilitation unit, a protected area within a national park, but neither text nor endnotes deal with the transition from keeper-dependence to keeper-independence.) Thoughtful design sets legible, large white text on a dark-color background graced by images of local flora in a lighter color and often bordered by a Samburu-inspired pattern. A guide to pronouncing the animals’ names appears early on.
Pleasing photographs with a slight story to encourage aspiring animal rescuers. (map, facts, further information, photographer’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-7)