The Elephants Come Home by Kim Tomsic, illustrated by Hadley Hooper (9781452127835)
Based on a true story, this picture book shows the immense connection and love that can come from saving elephants. Lawrence Anthony and Francoise Malby owned an animal sanctuary, Thula Thula, in Africa. In 1999, they rescued a herd of wild elephants who were causing damage where they had been living. But it was not as simple as creating a space for the elephants and moving them in. The elephants were not sure they wanted to stay, and certainly didn’t want to be penned in. They made that clear after destroying their first enclosure and escaping. Lawrence and Francoise had to act quickly to avoid the elephants being slaughtered by hunters, so they called in the help of a helicopter, who found them and managed to move them back to Thula Thula. Lawrence decided to camp with the elephants, forming a bond with their matriarch, Nana. Once that happened, they were able to leave their enclosure and head into the full Thula Thula sanctuary with the other animals. They could visit the farmhouse whenever they wanted too. It was when tragedy struck though that the true connection to the elephants became clear.
This incredibly moving story shows the connection that can happened between human and animal, one that goes both directions through gentleness, protection and a deep understanding of one another’s value. The patience that Lawrence shows through the book is notable and is what allows him to bond with the herd. People who already love elephants will find new knowledge here about conservation, protection and how very intelligent they are.
The art feels like a series of prints, each created with watercolor, ink and printmaking. The colors are magnificent from the blues of late night to the dusty oranges of African day to the lush greens of Thula Thula itself. The elephants are drawn with real character, their hugeness and their emotions clear in each image.
A remarkable story worth enjoying with your own herd. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.