An Elephant in the Backyard

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In Tha Klang, Thailand, brother and sister Jak and Muay have another sister&150a four-year-old Asian elephant named Wan Pen. With this book's inviting text and engaging photographs, American children can explore the world of Wan Pen and her traditional Thai village home as she goes to school and plays with the neighborhood children.

This story chronicles an elephant's training and interaction with children in a Thailand village. In Tha Klang, Thailand, brother ...

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Overview

In Tha Klang, Thailand, brother and sister Jak and Muay have another sister&150a four-year-old Asian elephant named Wan Pen. With this book's inviting text and engaging photographs, American children can explore the world of Wan Pen and her traditional Thai village home as she goes to school and plays with the neighborhood children.

This story chronicles an elephant's training and interaction with children in a Thailand village. In Tha Klang, Thailand, brother and sister Jak and Muay have another sister--a four-year-old Asian elephant named Wan Pen. With this book's inviting text and engaging photographs, American children can explore the world of Wan Pen and her traditional Thai village home as she goes to school and plays with the neighborhood children.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Photojournalist Sobol takes readers to the village of Tha Klang in Thailand, where domesticated elephants roam freely through the streets. The text is simple and engaging, exploring the relationships between elephants and people, and elephants and the environment. Those relationships are exemplified by brother and sister Jak, nine, and Muay, seven, and their four-legged, three-thousand-pound sister Wan Pen, whose name means "full moon." It is the photographs, however, with Wan Pen, as undisputed star, that really invite the turn of the page. The picture of young monks and elephants spotlights the importance of these beautiful animals in the spiritual calendar of this community. The pages in which Wan Pen is shown playing soccer with the children cleverly utilize an irresistibly delightful situation to offer information on elephant physiology. The role of elephants in the now-declining logging industry can be a thought-provoking subject for discussion in a classroom or simply across generations. The world of elephant trainers is a threatened one in many parts of south and southeast Asia, so this is not only a charming book but an important one. Although a map showing the location of the village would have been a useful addition, curious readers will certainly feel driven to go find one on their own. A single page of backmatter presents a quick review of elephant facts. 2004, Dutton, Ages 7 to 10.
—Uma Krishnaswami
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Readers can learn about an endangered species and the culture of an Asian country in this engaging photo-essay. Large, colorful photographs enhance the text as Sobol introduces a four-year-old domesticated Asian elephant that lives in Tha Klang, Thailand. Raised by her human family and schooled by a full-time trainer, Wan Pen will eventually earn money by taking visitors on tours of the village. Children will delight in discovering how the animal spends her day, and that her favorite pastime is playing soccer with her human siblings and their friends. The text is packed with interesting tidbits about these large mammals ("just one day's worth of food would fill an entire garage") and day-to-day life in Tha Klang (where the dirt and gravel of the unpaved roads have mixed with droppings to create an "elephant-poop highway"). The vivid photos show Wan Pen interacting with her caregivers, present colorful images of the village and its people, and capture the beauty of the verdant landscape. Additional facts about elephants are appended. A fine introduction to a special place where elephants live safely with humans.-Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Young readers may never complain about feeding or cleaning up after the dog again once they've met Wan Pen, a four-year-old pet/sibling/working animal belonging to a family in a Thai village. In Tha Klang, domesticated elephants consume about 400 pounds of food and bathtubs of water daily, while wandering freely (when they're not putting on shows for tourists) over roads of "dirt and gravel mixed together with years and years of mashed elephant droppings." In big, sharp, colorful scenes, photojournalist Sobol depicts Wan Pen and her pachyderm compatriots carrying, being tended by, even playing soccer with, a small corps of cheerful local children in well-kept rural settings. Sobol tucks several Thai words into his engaging narrative, and closes with a page of random elephant facts. He isn't the first to visit a village where people and elephants cohabit, but he offers a closer, more intimate portrait than readers will find in Jeremy C. Schmidt's In the Village of the Elephants (1994), or Roland Smith's In the Forest with Elephants (1998). (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525472889
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/3/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.28 (w) x 10.26 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Sobol is a photojournalist and author of several children's books.

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