April 21, 2018

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How To Be an Elephant by Katherine Roy | SLJ Review

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redstarROY, Katherine. How To Be an Elephant. illus. by Katherine Roy. 48p. diag. filmog. further reading. photos. websites. Roaring Brook/David Macaulay Studio. Sept. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781626721784.

Gr 3-6 –Roy follows her masterly Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands with a stunning look at how a newborn elephant matures into a capable member of the herd. The work adroitly covers anatomy, environment, family life, and other topics. Roy emphasizes how elephants, with their “it takes a village” approach to rearing young, rely on their intricate social structure for survival. Large illustrations of a calf romping, splashing, and marching with the herd are interspersed with captivating diagrams and smaller images that expand on the lucid text, making clever use of visual metaphors (for example, a picture of a pocketknife demonstrates the many ways an elephant uses its trunk). The young elephant cuts a cuddly figure, but Roy never anthropomorphizes. Her deftly shaded, earth-tone illustrations effectively bring to life everything from the dusty African savanna to the wrinkled skin of the elephants. In-depth back matter lists age-appropriate websites, films, and books. The scientific articles Roy cites and her author’s note about her trip to Kenya are a testament to her meticulous research. VERDICT Though materials on pachyderms are plentiful, this stellar addition stands out from the crowd; a must-have for collections serving elementary school students.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

Mahnaz Dar About Mahnaz Dar

Mahnaz Dar (mdar@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor for Library Journal and School Library Journal and can be found on Twitter @DibblyFresh.

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