Friday, January 4, 2019

Elephants need friends

Like us, elephants need family and friends. Otherwise they grow lonely. Here are two books that explore different facets of being an elephant.

themes: family, friendship, animals

Maggie, Alaska's Last Elephant
by Jennifer Keats Curtis; illus. by Phyllis Saroff
32 pages; ages 4-9
Arbordale, 2018

Once, elephants lived in Alaska - two of them.

This award-winning book opens with Annabelle, an Asian elephant and Maggie, an African elephant who lived in a zoo in Alaska. They were good friends. When Annabelle died, Maggie seemed lost. She was so lonely that she adopted a tire. The keepers tried everything to keep her active and engaged, but Maggie seemed to fade. Eventually, they decided she needed to go somewhere else, where she could live with other elephants.

What I like about this book: Author Jennifer Keats Curtis is a wonderful storyteller. She weaves in a lot of elephant behavior as she introduces Maggie and her story. She shows zookeepers creating enrichment opportunities for Maggie, in an effort to keep her brain and senses engaged throughout her day. And when they realize it's time for her to go, they have another problem to solve: how do you move an 8,000-pound animal thousands of miles?

I also like the back matter, which includes more information about elephant herds, how zoos keep elephants healthy and happy, and a fun Q&A with a keeper.

While Maggie's story is about a real elephant, Randal's is not. Instead, it is an imaginative way to address the question: how do you know who you are and where you belong.

Randal, the Elephant
by Ciara Gavin
36 pages; ages 3-6
Persnickety Press, 2018

One day Randal and Clive sat watching the elephants.

Randal finds elephants fascinating. Clive, not so much. As Randal waxes eloquent about all the cool things elephants can do (take a bath with their noses!), Clive asks, "Why don't you become one?"

What I like about this book: To become an elephant, Randal will need to spend a lot of time with them and "think elephant thoughts". So off he goes. But even when he's with the elephants, he remembers his buddies back home. A fun part of this book is the letters and photos that Randal sends to his friends. I love that he comes back to his otter friends. And I especially love the ending where Randal and Clive are once again watching animals and Randal exclaims how majestic these new beasts are! I don't want to give away the ending - but it is fun, and unexpected.

Yes! There is back matter - "cool facts" about elephants (in case you want to become one).

Beyond the Books:

Find out more about elephants! You can learn more at the World Wildlife site .

Arbordale provides links to the back matter in Maggie, as well as a teaching activity guide here.

If you could be an animal, what would you be? Why? What would you do to learn how to think your animal's thoughts?

Visit some elephants in a zoo. What sort of enrichment activities have the keepers provided? Watch their behavior and see if you can tell who their friends are.

If you're looking for more books on elephants, here are some titles to check out (links to reviews)

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website . Review copies provided by the publishers.

1 comment:

  1. Elephants are sensitive and feel loss. And, the second book with Randall is cute. I have always been fascinated by elephants. Learned that their feet are so sensitive and they pound them to communicate with other elephants miles away about, danger, food, water etc. Like your resources too.