Elaborate watercolor paintings and scientific diagrams accompany detailed information about African elephants.
The bold, sparse, poetic text that appears intermittently throughout the book clarifies the fact that elephants, like humans, need many years of socialization to become fully realized. The rest of the text is dense and set in two textbooklike columns of reasonably leaded small print. This text goes beyond elephant upbringing, delving into the hows and whys of elephant anatomy. A sophisticated vocabulary and some understanding of basic science are prerequisites for engaging with most of the text. For example: “A bouquet of aromas made of tiny odor molecules travels a few feet up her extra-long nasal cavities to land on supersized nasal folds that are covered with highly sensitive receptor cells.” (Overall, readers might find themselves wishing the sentences were rather shorter.) Some of the final pages give a good summary of elephants and ecology—both local and global. The frequent illustrations are arresting and informative, ranging from broad brush strokes that show elephants in action to the humorous, carefully detailed depiction of a parodied Swiss army knife that demonstrates all the uses of an elephant’s trunk. The newborn baby elephant, surrounded by surprisingly beautiful ribbons of afterbirth material, is a stunning blend of natural science and art.
Solid information for wildlife enthusiasts, enhanced by thoughtful artwork. (author’s note, sources, acknowledgements) (Informational picture book. 9-12)