To Catch an Elephant

Clavis. Jul. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781605374321; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781605374536.
PreS-Gr 1–In straightforward language, a child narrator explains that after arriving in “elephant country,” readers will need a guide, patience, and a good trap in order to catch an elephant. In subsequent pages, the story details how to net the animal, outrun the rest of the herd, get the elephant a passport, and board a jumbo jet. Once home in a suburban neighborhood, the child explains that the elephant will get homesick, refuse food, become sad and lonely, and a doctor will report that the elephant should be taken back “to Africa as soon as possible.” Alongside childlike illustrations in crayon, pen, and watercolor, the text is an attempted mixture of adventure and comedy. And while the final page reveals, “And in the end, you would realize how happy animals are living wild and free,” this story is unfortunate and poorly executed—one that completely dismisses the actuality of Africa’s wildlife poaching crisis.
VERDICT A misguided, problematic picture book that inadvertently raises more issues than it resolves with regard to wildlife conservation.

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