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Genre: Non Fiction
Age Range: 8-10 Junior/Middle
- Photographs by: Steve Bloom
- Text by: David Henry Wilson
This large format photographic picture book has the glamour of a coffee table book. But it offers a great deal more: it introduces children to detailed information about the physical characteristics, habitats and life style of the elephant – the earth’s largest land animal. It also has something to impart about the creature’s nature as gentle and intelligent, and gives some evidence that it does indeed seem to remember things well.
The fine photographs are given enough space to allow them to make their impact. The picture of the watering hole, for example, gives a tremendous sense of the value of water in a dry landscape and shows the different species – springbok, antelope and smaller creatures – sharing with the elephants which have actually created the waterhole with their strong heavy feet.
How are the issues round the endangered status of this animal tackled in a text that is written in a light style with touches of humour? The strategy here seems to be – first show what interesting and rather wonderful creatures elephants are, and then explain that they are at risk. The danger from their only real predators, human beings, is mentioned under the section on Tusks. Works of art made of ivory ‘don’t seem so beautiful when you realise that someone killed an elephant in order to make them’. And in the very last paragraph the author draws attention to the need to protect elephants – their numbers are now down to 500,000 while it is estimated there were 10 million a hundred years ago. And so young readers will take this thought away from their reading: it is concerning enough to lead to their own investigation and further research.