Review of The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People, and One Extraordinary Friendship

The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People, and One Extraordinary Friendship
by Kim Tomsic; illus. by Hadley Hooper
Primary    Chronicle    68 pp.    g
5/21    978-1-4521-2783-5    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-7972-0108-5    $11.99

On the first page of this moving true story, readers meet tenderhearted couple Lawrence and Françoise, who stand poised to greet them. They live on Thula Thula, a sprawling South African wildlife sanctuary, on which also roam rhinos, zebra, crocodiles, and more. When Lawrence is asked if he wants to adopt a herd of angry elephants, previously hunted, he accepts. The story chronicles in riveting detail the elephants’ arrival; their learning curve in adjusting to Thula Thula; their eventual acceptance of life at the preserve; and their special bond with Lawrence. Their connection is such that upon his death the elephants, sensing his absence, head to his home and camp there for three days to be with Françoise. (Have tissues handy.) The story’s flawless, gentle pacing illuminates the animals’ initial fear and the time, patience, and compassion it takes for attentive Lawrence to earn their trust. He talks to them, sings to them, and even tells them stories — all details sure to delight readers. Hooper fills the pages with saturated, eye-catching teal, copper, and emerald hues. Shades of rich blue and soft rose heighten the story’s emotional impact, particularly the loss of Lawrence. An appended note assures readers that the elephants continue to thrive at Thula Thula.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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