Review of The Elephant

The Elephant
by Jenni Desmond; illus. by the author
Primary    Enchanted Lion    48 pp.
10/18    978-1-59270-264-0    $18.95

In this companion to the author-
illustrator’s The Blue Whale and The Polar Bear (rev. 3/17), a brown-skinned boy wearing a red crown introduces readers to one of nature’s endangered wild things: the elephant. In a setup similar to that of the previous books, the boy stretches out in his room, immersed in reading the very book youngsters are holding, and letting his imagination take him into the narrative as he joins a pachyderm caravan across the desert and shares facts about elephants. Outline maps show locations of both Asian and African elephants, and the accompanying expository text further describes their habitats. Readers turn the page and discover diagrams of each species, with the illustrations highlighting differences and the accompanying text describing similarities. The boy continues his journey of discovery, encountering visual comparisons such as an African elephant’s size shown via a stack of automobiles and, in further pages, the magnitude of its tusks (two children stretching out atop one tusk illustrating its length) and diet (a colorful pyramid of the seven hundred pounds of plant matter an elephant eats per day). The mixed-media illustrations are both informative and beautifully executed, with varied motifs and an overall design that imparts complicated facts through clear and clean layouts. An introductory note describing modern threats to elephants sets the stage for learning to begin.

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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