Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence (Adapted for Young Readers by Thea Feldman)
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (BYR)
Reserve owner Lawrence Anthony receives a call one day from Marion Garai with the EMOA, an elephant-welfare organization in South Africa. Garai inquires if he will adopt a herd of wild elephants—one that has posed a risk to the residents of Mpumalanga, the northeastern province of South Africa, located near his reserve. With a sense of urgency, she informs him that all nine elephants, including the two babies, will be put down if no one agrees to take them in by midnight. Struggling to determine how he and his staff can secure their reserve in order to pass inspections by the governing authority, Lawrence decides to accept the challenge. He contacts his employees to ensure all grounds are adequately secured. Once the elephants set foot on Thula Thula, Lawrence’s twenty-mile perimeter reserve, life will be forever transformed for them, as well as for their incredibly devoted and passionate owner.
Lawrence Anthony, along with Graham Spence, does a remarkable job of chronicling the everyday experiences of life on a wild animal reserve in a remote region of South Africa. Together, they paint a picture of a thousand words! This authentic duo, along with Thea Feldman, who masterfully adapts the text for young readers, share Lawrence’s greatest dreams and most troublesome fears, as well as all that falls between the two. Additionally, they artfully sprinkle tribal language, conservationist vocabulary, and interesting facts about African wildlife into the text. This nonfiction masterpiece is perfect for children of various ages, though it’s most suitable for those with a sixth-grade reading competency level or higher. The depth of the writing will appeal most to those with the ability to reason, analyze, and extract greater meaning from the everyday encounters and experiences they describe.