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Friday, May 26, 2017

Thirsty, Thirsty Elephants, written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck. Charlesbridge, Random House, 2017. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"Another dry day follows.
There have been many in
this long drought. Grandma
keeps the herd close to the
river. But each day, the
water level drops.

Finally, there's barely
enough for the gazelles,
zebras, and giraffes."

Children who cannot imagine being without life-sustaining water for themselves will clearly be very concerned for the herd of elephants described in this striking new book by noted author Sandra Markle. She chronicles their search for water during a time of severe drought on the savannah.

In an author's note she tells her audience about an matriarch leader, Big Mama. In 1994 in Tanzania, a years long drought made finding any water virtually impossible. A researcher at the time was interested in Big Mama who had lived through two such droughts. One, as a calf, and the current one. He believed her memory of the first search helped her lead her family to a new source of water.

Sandra Markle has a penchant for finding inspiration in real animals. So, we meet Grandma! She smells water and leads the way. Mother elephant follows with Little Calf in tow. Finding that first river offers some relief. Many other animals share what is there. The herd moves on, keeping close to the water even as its level drops. Soon, there is not enough for their needs. They must find water elsewhere. Lead on, Grandma.

Fabricio VandenBroeck's stunning artwork is done in acrylics and watercolors. The illustrations allow readers an up close and personal trek alongside the elephant herd, almost tasting the dust and feeling the energy-zapping heat. The landscapes are as detailed as the elephants themselves. Little Calf, so cute and learning all the time, adds just the touch of humor needed to allay fears for the herd as it makes its way, finally to WATER.

The author's note, further facts about elephants and a list of resources bring the book to a close.

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