Rating: 1-5: 3
Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book
What did you like about the book? The living conditions for three elephants in a Toronto zoo are inhumane; the elephants’ enclosure is too small and conditions in the winter are too cold. Moved by the elephants’ plight, Canadian citizens campaign to move the elephants to a larger, warmer refuge located in California to live out the remainder of their lives. Despite opposition by zoo officials who prefer a move to another zoo, the citizens prevail, and the elephants are moved to the PAWS (Performing Animals Welfare Society) sanctuary. Deines uses an attractive color palette of soft violet, saffron, and brown hues to convey the seriousness of the elephants’ plight and their (qualified) happy ending (an addendum tells us that not long after arriving at the PAWS sanctuary, Iringa, one of the elephants had to be euthanized). Five pages at the end show photos of the elephants and provide additional facts about elephants.
Anything you didn’t like about it? A significant portion of the story is devoted to detailing the journey from Toronto to California which, despite attempts to add drama, is ultimately too slight to absorb readers.
To whom would you recommend this book? This serves as a gentle introduction to animal rights suitable for third grade and up. Pair with other picture books about animals in captivity whose situations were improved such as Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla.
Who should buy this book? Elementary libraries and public libraries.
Where would you shelve it? Shelve with other nonfiction books about elephants in zoos in 636.96.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not necessary.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA
Date of review: 7/10/16