Starting with the birth of an African elephant, young readers will come to identify with Ndovu, the "main character" of this nonfiction book, as he bonds with his herd, makes long journeys with them in search of food and water, and is finally kicked out of the herd for rowdy behavior. Ndovu's life is painted in detail, including the sounds, sights, and smells (from an elephant's point of view) of life on the African grasslands. As Ndovu wanders on his own and then with another male companion, sometimes joining a herd to mate, he is in danger of being killed by ivory poachers. An exciting, suspenseful, and educational book that was written by an author who has made 27 trips to Africa to study elephants.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Drama, adventure, and danger are all part of this exciting look at the life of Ndovu, an African elephant. The amazing cohesiveness of the herd and the elephants' love and care for their offspring fill the youngster's early days. From drought, through storm and menace by lions and other predators, readers see the most deadly enemy of all slowly decimate the animals for the gruesome prize of their tusks. Caras reveals other aspects of African wildlife and nature throughout; black-and-white photographs illustrate the text. The author does a fine job of personalizing both the animals and the humans who see them only as cash in hand. His plea is not only for the outlawing of ivory as a commodity, but also the need to see ivory hunting in the same light as human sacrifice, cannibalism, or other barbarous acts. This is a touching and rewarding work that can be read not only for information but also as a great story.-Eva Elisabeth Von Ancken, Trinity Pawling School, NY
Caras blends a descriptive biography of a bush elephant and an urgent plea to end the ivory trade into an accessible adventure that provides a wealth of information about equatorial Africa and its elephants. He follows the elephant Ndovu, a composite based on Caras' own observations and the research of others, from birth to adulthood--depicting a life filled with natural disasters and deadly encounters with human beings. An ardent conservationist, Caras harshly criticizes poachers and condemns corrupt officials and military officers who profit from ivory. Researchers will be limited by the narrative approach and the absence of both documentation and an index, but middle-graders interested in elephants or conservation will enjoy the book.