This picture book offers a fresh perspective on Earth’s largest land mammals.
Following his father’s death, Aaron, a black Zambian boy, takes over his father’s job at the distant Lion’s Lodge to help support his family. One morning, he rescues a baby elephant from drowning in the lodge pool. The keepers from a local elephant orphanage who take custody of the calf invite Aaron to visit. When Aaron faces criticism at home because some consider elephants a dangerous nuisance, Aaron’s mother tells him, “Don’t listen to them….You did the right thing. You don’t just let an animal die.” Aaron visits the orphanage and amazes the keepers when Zambezi, the baby elephant, who had refused to eat, finishes a bottle of milk for Aaron. Thus begins a beautiful friendship and a new career for Aaron. The backmatter features a photograph of the real-life Aaron, who has worked at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery since 2012 and now serves as team leader of the elephant keepers. Double-page informational spreads about elephant biology, their endangered status, the nursery, and more punctuate the beautiful and emotionally charged mixed-media paintings that carry the text-heavy narrative. The first informational spread comes as a surprise because the book reads like fiction, but readers will find them useful for understanding the experiences of Aaron and Bezi.
A moving and unforgettable true story of one worthwhile effort to counter humans’ negative impact on wildlife. (Informational picture book. 5-9)