Friday, January 19, 2018

The Elephant Whisperer

Last week I shared half a handful of elephant picture books. Today's book is middle grade nonfiction.

The Elephant Whisperer
by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence
256 pages; ages 10-14
Henry Holt & Co, 2017

I love nonfiction that reads like an adventure novel! Lawrence Anthony ran the Thula Thula reserve - 5,000 acres of undeveloped bush in the heart of Zululand, South Africa. It was home to white rhinos, cape buffalo, giraffes, zebras, lynx, antelope, and other animals, but no elephants. Anthony never thought to have elephants, until he hears of a small group of elephants being given away.

They're "troublesome", he's warned. But he decides to take a chance on them and reinforces the fencing. They get out - many times - and Anthony decides he'll have to sleep with them to let them know that they are safe and this is their home.

In between the adventures of tracking down escaped elephants and capturing poachers, Anthony tells about elephant social groups. He describes each of the animals in the herd, their personalities, and a whole lot about animal behavior. One thing he emphasizes: elephants are smart. They are tenacious problem-solvers.

Eventually the herd starts visiting his house - especially after he's been away and is returning to the reserve. When they have babies, the females bring them to the house and "introduce" the babies to the human who is now an adopted member of the herd. Woven throughout the book is Anthony's life on the reserve - including some tips for gardening in elephant territory.

"These elephants taught me that all life-forms are imporant to one another in our common quests for survival and happiness," writes Anthony. "... there is more to life than just yourself, your own family, or your own kind."

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup - On Monday we'll be hanging out on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle - so hop over to see what other people are reading. ARC provided by publisher.


Rosi said...

This sounds fascinating. I love that the elephants want to introduce the new babies to their human. Thanks for the post. I'll check it out.

Elizabeth H. Cottrell said...

"...there is more to life than just yourself, your own family, or your own kind." What an amazing lesson for us to learn when it seems we humans beings can't even get along with our own kind. I'll be getting this book to read to my grandsons, for sure.

Greg Pattridge said...

Elephants are fascinating animals and MG kids and teachers will gravitate toward this book. Thanks for your review and the link to the video.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like an interesting book. And one that is so important now with how endangered elephants are.

Patricia T. said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful book. Elephants are smart. And, they are social. They communicate info about water, food or danger to each other over long distances by pounding their feet. I want to read this!

Books4Learning said...

The Elephant Whisperer sounds like a fascinating book! I love non-fiction. I think I would enjoy this one. Thanks for the suggestion. I am adding it to my list.

Iron Guy Carl said...

Yes, this does sound fascinating! Thanks for letting us know about it.