As a young boy in a striped shirt and blue jeans reads his book about elephants, readers learn facts along with him.
Delightful art gracefully meanders back and forth between Sendak-ian people and objects and almost photorealistic representations of elephants in their natural habitats. There are quite a few children’s books about these magnificent, endangered mammals, and this one is among the best. The accessible text is supplemented by art that drives home such points as the differences between Asian and African elephants and the way an elephant foot’s anatomy resembles a woman’s (dark-skinned) leg in high heels. Perhaps the best example is the illustration highlighting the amazing reality of an older male bull’s 100-pound, 8-foot-long tusk: The book’s protagonist and a friend stretch out, foot-to-foot, along the tusk of a benign-appearing elephant, as the text states that the tusk is “the same length as two seven-year-old children toe to toe.” And what fun seeing the boy atop the formidable pyramid of fruit that represents a bull elephant’s diet of 700 pounds of plant matter a day! The protagonist is dark-skinned, as is his friend, and the appearance of only one white human face is refreshing, as is the matter-of-fact, nonpreachy tone used when discussing saving elephants from extinction. The text covers elephant territory, anatomy, behaviors, and more, ending with comparisons between sleep for elephants and sleep for humans—a perfect ending for a well-executed book.
A must-have for anyone who loves elephants. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-10)