Thursday, September 1, 2011

Elephants: The New Vampires

It seems like elephants are everywhere lately, and not just in my house. They're showing up in a lot of books. (And an Oscar-worthy movie you may have heard of.)

The upcoming elephant books for kids I've seen all look awesome, and thankfully not too similar to my own (like what happens in the "Oh No! Someone Used My Idea!" experience).

Since you can never have too many elephant books, here are some to look for:

THE MASTERWORK OF A PAINTING ELEPHANT by Michelle Cuevas (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, October 2011)
I remember seeing the listing for this one back when it sold and thinking it sounded fabulous. Here's the description from the publisher's website:

Ever since he was an infant, Pigeon Jones has lived on the back of an artistically gifted white elephant named Birch. Birch is a loving father, but that doesn’t stop Pigeon from wondering about the human parents who abandoned him. Birch has dreams, too—of being a well-known artist, and of finding the acrobat he fell in love with while they performed together in a circus years ago.

And so, on Pigeon’s tenth birthday, their search for fame and lost loves begins. Pigeon and Birch paint their way across the world, dodging an evil circus ringleader, freeing zoo animals, and befriending singing hoboes along the way. But when they reach the end of their journey, Birch must master the most difficult art of all: letting go and allowing his beloved Pigeon to stand on his own two feet.

Switching from fantasy to historical fiction, one that's completely different but from the same publishing house (Macmillan's leading the herd in the elephant trend) is the young adult novel AN ELEPHANT IN THE GARDEN by WAR HORSE author Michael Morpurgo (Feiwel & Friends, October 2011).

Lizzie and Karl’s mother is a zoo keeper; the family has become attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene, who will be destroyed as a precautionary measure so she and the other animals don’t run wild should the zoo be hit by bombs. The family persuades the zoo director to let Marlene stay in their garden instead. When the city is bombed, the family flees with thousands of others, but how can they walk the same route when they have an elephant in tow, and keep themselves safe? Along the way, they meet Peter, a Canadian navigator who risks his own capture to save the family.

As Michael Morpurgo writes in an author’s note, An Elephant in the Garden is inspired by historical truths, and by his admiration for elephants, “the noblest and wisest and most sensitive of all creatures.” Here is a story that brings together an unlikely group of survivors whose faith in kindness and love proves the best weapon of all.

TUA AND THE ELEPHANT by Randal Harris, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo (Chronicle Books, March 2012).

Not much online about this one other than the Publishers Marketplace announcement where it was described as "...a middle-grade novel about the remarkable journey of a young girl who rescues and befriends an elephant."

And a couple of this year's elephant books that are already out:

I loved SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (Candlewick, March 2011). It's a midgrade novel, but one that I think teens and adults would enjoy too. This was a hard one to put down, because I had to keep reading to find out where Jack was going to go next and if he would find his mom.

Ever since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times caught in a whirlwind of energy and "spinning" wildly until it’s over. But Jack never thought his mom would take off during the night and leave him at a campground in Acadia National Park, with no way to reach her and barely enough money for food. Any other kid would report his mom gone, but Jack knows by now that he needs to figure things out for himself - starting with how to get from the backwoods of Maine to his home in Boston before DSS catches on. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins the long journey south, a journey that will test his wits and his loyalties - and his trust that he may be part of a larger herd after all.

Ann Downer's ELEPHANT TALK: THE SURPRISING SCIENCE OF ELEPHANT COMMUNICATION (Lerner, 2011) is fascinating nonfiction book about elephant communication.
Here's a bit about the book from Ann's website:

Everyone has heard a bull elephant trumpeting, in a Tarzan movie or at the zoo. When we think about elephant communication, we think about that call. But elephant communication is much more complex and much more interesting that what we can hear with our human ears. Did you know that elephants also communicate through low-frequency rumbles we can’t hear? Or that they read vibrations in the ground through pads on their specially adapted feet? Or that they send signals to rivals and mates using chemical signals and body language?

Share your favorite elephant books in the comments, if you have some I haven't mentioned here. Any others you know of that are coming soon?

Then go on and write that elephant-lion romance book. I know you're thinking about it.


  1. Thanks for posting these summaries; several good ones here that I'd like to add to my reading list. Good luck with your own book!

  2. Thanks, Dawn! There are also a couple of elephant picture books coming out in the Spring-- Monkey & Elephant by Carole Lexa Schaefer and Meet Me At the Moon by Gianna Marino.

  3. Wow, that's a lot of elephants! Thanks for sharing these.

  4. Love, love, love the sound of these books, especially AN ELEPHANT IN THE GARDEN (the blurb had me teary-eyed). Thanks, Lynne! Great post!!


  5. OMG! Elephants ARE the new vampire! Lucky for you.

  6. And luckily you can never have too many elephant books!

    Thanks for the comments!

  7. I didn't realise how many elephant stories there were. I was like Kelly, thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of elephants!"

    Thanks for posting all these, along with the summaries. Verra, verra cool.