Saving H’non: Chang and the Elephant

Dial. Oct. 2023. 128p. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9780593406731; pap. $13.99. ISBN 9780593406724.
Gr 4-8–Young conservationist Chang is ready to try her hand at rescuing Asian elephants in Vietnam after finding success in helping sun bears (notably a sun bear named Sorya) escape the mistreatment of humans. In addition to being poached for their ivory tusks, Asian elephants are also captured by locals who use them to earn a living by offering elephant rides to tourists. In order to subdue the elephants enough for them to perform this harmful labor, their handlers, or mahouts, break their spirit through abuse that starts when the elephants are very young and separated from their mothers. Chang and her fellow team members at Yok Dôn National Park work diligently to free as many elephants as they can, including 60-year-old H’non, from these harmful conditions so the elephants may live out the rest of their lives as wild animals untethered from humans. Based on the story of real life elephant H’non, this fastidiously made visual narrative offers optimism for the plight of Asian elephants alongside the stark reality of conditions they face. The story eschews traditional paneling for much of its content, offering a snapshot of journal pages that supply numerous intriguing facts about elephants and their habitat, as well as pages jam-packed with a medley of images in muted earth tones. These provide a striking contrast to ornate spreads and bursts of lively color that are distributed throughout. An author’s note is included in the preface.
VERDICT An exceptionally well-done story that is informative, intricately and delightfully detailed, and brimming with jaw-dropping art. Highly recommended.

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