In the Village of the Elephants

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This well-crafted combination of Schmidt's ( A Boy Becomes a Man at Wounded Knee ) evocative prose and Wood's ( Himalaya Passage ) sharp photographs explores an unusual human/animal relationship, that of the elephants of Southern India and the mahouts (trainers) who care for them. Focusing on Bomman, the son of a mahout, and Mudumalai, his father's elephant, the book charts a typical day in the life of the team. The elephants, once used for logging, are seen here in their contemporary role as forest rangers, patrolling the preservations and crop fields. Lively photographs depict activities ranging from the morning bath in the river to the noontime feeding of the village elephants (Mudumalai receives 20-pound balls of specially concocted porridge) and correspond effectively to the text, which places the reader in the middle of the action (``Having an elephant throw sticks at you might seem like a strange way to wake up, but for Bomman it happens almost every morning''). On a larger scale, the book thoughtfully demonstrates how both humans and animals have had to adapt to a changing world. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
In a Southern Indian village near the Nilgiri Hills, working elephants are parked like cars next to the homes of their mahouts. Mr. Schmidt has captured the close relationship between a young boy who hopes to follow in his father's footsteps, and the elephant with which he'll work in a forest sanctuary.
Children's Literature - Judy Katsh
Photo-essay introduction to the natural history of the Asian elephants and their native Indian home, and also to the village life of the humans who tend them and the political interference that has altered their lives and futures. Ironically, it's the little, personal glimpses into the elephants' lives that become more impressive than their size. It's the story of the playful morning scrub in the river "tub." It's the story of the young boy who learns to put concentrated soccer ball size food pellets into his hungry elephant's mouth. It's the story of the mysterious condition suffered by some adult males that makes them temporarily uncontrollable. And it's the full color, up-close photographs illustrating these and other stories that make the exotic adventure accessible to its readers.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-A fine and unusual view of Asian elephants in which information is tucked away in an attention-holding narrative. Bonman, a teenaged boy, lives with his family in a village of 15 houses in the hills of Southern India. Beside nearly every house stands an elephant. He is learning to be a mahout, an elephant driver, like his father. Schmidt describes his care for and interactions with his enormous charge, Mudumalai. He also details some of the changes that have occurred in the villagers' lives since logging has been outlawed. Their forest has become a wildlife sanctuary; the boy's father works as a forest ranger and uses Mudumalai to help clear trees and protect croplands from wild animals. This slice-of-life story is most notable for its depiction of the man-to-elephant relationship-a pleasant change from standard nonfiction presentations. Clear, full-color photographs (uncaptioned) enhance the lively text. This is a fact-filled book that should prove useful for reports, but it is fascinating and entertaining reading as well.-Lisa Wu Stowe, Great Neck Library, NY
Sheilamae O'Hara
Abhayaranayam, India, is a 15-house village of elephants, their mahouts, and the mahouts' families. The beasts belong to the Indian government, but they are fed, cared for, trained, and worked by their mahouts, who formerly were nomadic tribesmen. The elephants were originally used as loggers, and they succeeded so well that they decimated the forests in the area. Now the mahouts perform jobs similar to forest rangers in a wildlife sanctuary. This book focuses on Bomman, who cares for Mudumalai, a young bull. With lively prose and high-qualit color photographs, the lifestyle of these Kurambas people and the never-quite-domesticated elephants they live with is documented. Although to the uninitiated Mudumalai appears to have a bad case of pachyderm vitiligo on its trunk and ears, it is regarded as a brave, strong, and handsome elephant. This is a fascinating look at a majestic animal and the people who care for and live with it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802782274
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 3/28/1994
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 11.33 (h) x 0.39 (d)

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