How To Be an Elephant by Katherine Roy | SLJ Review

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.

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