A childhood love of horses translates into an adult career devoted to learning about and promoting protection for African elephants.
For 40 years, field scientist Cynthia Moss has lived with and studied the elephants of Amboseli National Park in Kenya. Buzzeo, who focused on a fictional elephant calf in My Bibi Always Remembers, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (2014), here introduces a real-life elephant scientist who has combined her passion for studying these big animals with activism around the world for a big cause: banning the sale of ivory. Choosing details young readers will understand, the author moves quickly from a description of Moss’ early life to an explanation of how she came to live in Kenya. She goes on to give examples of the kinds of questions the scientist wondered about and what she learned about elephant family behavior. Colorful illustrations, done with colored pencils, acrylic paint, watercolor, ink, and collage and bordered with appropriate designs, add interesting details. There are wide-angled scenes and close-ups of elephants in the wild. But this narrative has a dark side. Many, many elephants have been killed for the ivory in their tusks. The image of an elephant “lying lifeless in the beating sun” and men loading its bloody tusk into a truck filled with other bloody tusks will distress readers of any age.
The simplicity of the narrative and its playful emphasis on and repetition of what is “BIG” seem at odds with the grim reality of ivory poaching, making this a book that may have a hard time finding an audience. (endnote, further reading, additional sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)