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From the If Animals Disappeared series

by Lily Williams ; illustrated by Lily Williams

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-14320-4
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

The latest installment in Williams’ series shows how elephants’ survival affects the whole world.

African forest elephants are a “keystone species,” defined here as one whose “actions—from walking, to eating, to pooping, to sleeping—shape their environment.” The interaction between elephants and the complex ecosystem that makes up the tropical forest is explored, from how elephants shape their environment to how that environment would change without elephants, ending with how readers can help ensure they don’t disappear. As elephants walk thousands of miles through the forest, eating hundreds of pounds of plants each day and spreading their dung throughout the area, the undigested seeds in their dung are moved around, diversifying the ecosystem. But “poachers are killing elephants faster than they can reproduce.” If their dung disappeared, plant biodiversity would decrease, which would affect the animals and the forest soil—even the forest’s ability to survive. Standing in for readers, two black children in jeans and T-shirts enter the forest with a black adult, appear throughout the story, and, at the end, draw a “save the elephants” poster. The structure of Williams’ text keeps readers’ interest in this fascinating subject piqued, and she does a fine job explaining the science in lay terms. The artwork uses a palette of deep greens and browns to illustrate how these changes would alter the world.

Uniquely thought-provoking and important.

(Informational picture book. 7-12)