Monday, August 25, 2008

Elephants in real life and in children's books

Recently something very special happened in Portland, Oregon. One of the Oregon Zoo elephants had a baby. The zoo employees waited with great eagerness for the baby to come into the world and they were horrified when the new mother almost killed the baby soon after he was born. They quickly stepped in to rescue the little animal, and though he was trampled on by his confused and upset parent, the baby is doing well. The keepers and experts at the zoo hope that they will be able to reunite the baby and his mother permanently in the not too distant future. To find out more about this special baby please visit the baby elephant page on the Oregon Zoo Website.

I have a great fondness for elephants because I did my university dissertation on these marvelous animals. I have been lucky enough to get up close and personal with working Indian elephants as well as seeing both Indian and African elephants in the wild.

Because of my fondness for pachyderms I have reviewed a fair number of books about these wonderful animals. Of course there is Babar, whose stories I read in French when I was very little and whose adventures are still beloved by children all over the world. More recently Ella the elephant joined the ranks of bookish elephants. Recently I reviewed and greatly enjoyed the book What Elephant? This is a delightfully funny picture book about a little boy who quite suddenly acquires an unexpected house guest - an elephant. When he tells his friends and neighbors that there is an elephant in his house they simply don't believe him. Needless to say this is a very trying situation for the little boy. Wonderfully illustrated, this deliciously funny picture book is sure to make young readers smile.

Of course there is also that most famous of elephants, Horton, who has a big heart and who hears what no one else is willing to admit is there. The new Horton Hears a Who Pop-Up is a terrific title for Dr.Seuss fans, elephant fans, and pop-up fans alike. Watch this space for my review of Horton Hatches the Egg, which is long over due.

Are there any elephant books that you enjoy? Please tell me about them.


Nicole said...

Elephants are always a fun topic. My sister's favorite animal is actually an Elephant; she knows some random things about them.

Marya Jansen-Gruber said...

Because I spent so much time with them in India I came to appreciate how very clever and sensitive these wonderful animals are. I hope that we can continue to save natural habitat for them both in India and in Africa.

Anonymous said...

What a fun site! I'm always on the hunt for great children's books and have recently discovered Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks and DiscoveryBoxBooks (which has a special focus on teeth!) They have work by acclaimed children's books illustrator Helen Oxenbury appearing in the Storybox series for September. In addition to this, they also have some great activities for rainy days:,, Enjoy!