Thirsty, Thirsty Elephants

illus. by Fabricio VandenBroeck. 32p. further reading. websites. Charlesbridge. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781580896344.
PreS-Gr 2—A herd of elephants led by Grandma Elephant are looking for water during a long drought in Tanzania. As the dry spell drags on, their efforts get more and more desperate. The intense thirst triggers a memory for Grandma Elephant of a long-ago drought that she lived through as a young calf. As Grandma Elephant leads Mama, Little Calf, and the rest of the herd in search of the water source from her memory, Little Calf collapses from thirst and exhaustion. Mama Elephant revives the little one by using her own saliva to cool Little Calf off enough to keep going. "The thirsty, thirsty elephants walk on, slowly." Grandma finally smells what she's been seeking. Readers will be rooting for Grandma, Mama, Little Calf, and the rest of the herd the whole way. VandenBroeck's colorful acrylic and watercolor illustrations depict the herd and other wildlife with full-spread, panoramic views and will keep readers engaged in the drama of the story. An author's note explains that the tale was inspired by an actual elephant, Big Mama, who 30 years earlier lived through a similar drought when she was a calf and then, according to researchers, went on to lead her herd to a water source during a 1994 drought in the Tarangire National Park area of Tanzania. In addition to the note, an "Amazing Elephant Facts" and "Digging Deeper" sections are included.
VERDICT Lending itself well to read-alouds, this is an enjoyable addition to preschool and elementary picture book collections looking for stories inspired by actual animals and events.

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