Lumbering nomads, African elephants wander across vast grasslands in search of food and water. Here, young readers get an up-close and personal view of these peaceful pachyderms-from the nubs on those muscular trunks down the corrugated, leathery hide to the twisted rope of tail. This primary study of the physiology, habits and patterns of a dwindling breed is surprisingly complete in six chapters. New, challenging words are explained within the simple narrative. Remarkable photographs, large and plentiful, reveal nice details like tusks and toes and textures; the shot of baby elephants frolicking in a golden sea of mud will be long remembered. Geography is not neglected here. Herds stand before a pastel backdrop. Lonely acres of veldt stretch beneath limitless sky, a perspective that dwarfs even these mammoth creatures. A glossary, index and guide for adults provide bonus material to wrap up an overall engaging field trip to the Dark Continent.
- Judy Katsh
This book in the "Early Bird Nature Books" series entertains and enlightens. Written clearly enough for novice readers, it also contains a good amount of information about the featured animal. The elephants are depicted as real animals who have adapted to life in their native environment. Attitudes and stereotypes have been replaced in this slim volume by information and understanding
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Like the ``New True'' books (Childrens), these titles introduce young readers to information in an attractive and accessible format. Each book begins with a map and a list of words to search for, poses a question (quickly answered) at the beginning of each chapter, and concludes with a note to adults encouraging them to supplement the reading experience. Smith introduces African Elephants and discusses why they are both scarce and valuable; unfortunately, while their precarious status is discussed, the word ``endangered'' is never used. The full-color photographs are crisp and informative throughout. Staub begins and ends his title with references to Alligators as ``monsters'' in terms of both the danger they pose to other species and the important place they hold in their habitat. Some of the photographs are murky but the captions are clear and they cover the gamut of gator life. Useful and attractive, both books should add variety to easy nonfiction collections.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System