A charming and informative work of nonfiction.

THE ELEPHANT DOCTOR OF INDIA

Throughout his career, Dr. Kushal Konwar “KK” Sarma has treated a variety of animals, but his first love has always been elephants.

Growing up in a village in Assam, India, he was particularly close to an elephant named Lakshmi, who died an untimely death at least partly because there were no doctors available to recognize and treat her symptoms. The loss of his favorite childhood companion inspired Sarma to become a veterinarian, determined to prevent any more unnecessary elephant deaths. His passion for elephants led Sarma to become a pioneer in the field of veterinary science, developing a technique for chemically sedating elephants before anyone else in Assam and gaining a reputation as the person to call whenever an elephant is in danger. In Chodosh’s account, Sarma’s adventures take him all over the state of Assam. His experiences healing India’s elephants—and, in the process, protecting human lives—are sometimes dangerous, sometimes heartbreaking, and always thrilling. This engaging and deeply researched book intersperses fascinating information about the lives of Assamese elephants with vivid scenes of Sarma’s veterinary life. Chodosh treats issues like religion, ethnicity, and language with care, providing readers with insight not only into elephant science, but also into northeastern Indian culture and tradition. The book’s afterword is an empowering call to action sure to create a generation of local ecological activists well aware of the global ramifications of their work.

A charming and informative work of nonfiction. (elephant facts, glossary) (Biography. 9-14)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64160-307-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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