Happy Book Birthday to Elephant Speak: A Devoted Keeper’s Life Among the Herd! Today, we are learning about, celebrating, and loving elephants. There are several ways you can celebrate elephants—going to the zoo, donating, and reading a book featuring elephants are some examples. Below are a few books that feature elephants in a way that acknowledges how thoughtful, sweet, and loyal elephants are.
In 2020, Ooligan Press published Elephant Speak: A Devoted Keeper’s Life Among the Herd by Melissa Crandall. The reader follows Roger Henneous through his career as an elephant keeper at the Oregon Zoo. Roger befriends the elephants—Belle, Packy, Me-Tu, Rosy, and the others—by learning their language and speaking up for them when his coworkers would not. This biography highlights the friendships that can be formed between humans and elephants, as well as the intelligence and loyalty of elephants.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen was published in 2006 by Algonquin Books. This novel follows Jacob Jankowski, a veterinary student in the Great Depression, and his career as a circus menagerie veterinarian. While working for the circus, Jacob meets Marlena, the equestrian star, and her husband August, the brutal animal trainer. Jacob also meets Rosie, the untrainable elephant that was meant to save the circus. During his time with the circus Jacob befriends Rosie, but he also finds the circus to be a treacherous place. Jacob and Rosie’s friendship is built on his kindness toward her and his understanding that she is an intelligent and kind animal that is being mistreated. While Rosie is not the main character in this novel, the story would not be the same without her.
Square Fish published An Elephant in the Garden: Inspired by a True Story by Michael Morpurgo in 2010. This novel is about Lizzie and her family’s experience in World War II. Lizzie’s mother worked at a zoo and formed an attachment with Marlene, an orphaned elephant that she brought home in an effort to protect from the bombings. Lizzie, Karl (her little brother), their mother, and Marlene must flee for safety after their home is destroyed. They have to make their own path to safety due to Marlene’s presence, but it quickly becomes evident that without Marlene they would not have survived. Morpurgo manages to show the bond between an elephant and humans, as well as the love and respect that develops between them.
The books listed above are only a few of many, many books that explore the relationships between humans and elephants. Elephants appear across genres from children’s books to nonfiction to historical fiction. There is an elephant book for everyone to read and enjoy!.