A moving and unforgettable true story of one worthwhile effort to counter humans’ negative impact on wildlife.

THE ELEPHANT KEEPER

CARING FOR ORPHANED ELEPHANTS IN ZAMBIA

From the CitizenKid series

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)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-561-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 40

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

Did you like this book?

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more