TO CATCH AN ELEPHANT

Book Cover

A child in a pith helmet goes
hunting for elephants.

A white boy with blue hair
resembling grass heads to Africa and hires a guide, who also appears to be
white, and in a zebra-patterned vehicle they set off to catch an elephant. When
the boy and his guide find their prey minding his own business and eating
breakfast, the text strongly cautions against bothering an elephant.
Nevertheless, the boy successfully nets him, and the elephant’s herd’s attempts
to rescue their family member are to no avail. Once home, the elephant doesn’t
fit anywhere and becomes a general nuisance to the boy’s neighbors. Eventually,
the elephant becomes homesick and refuses to eat, which is when the boy has an
epiphany that the elephant should be with his family. Reuniting the elephant
with his family proves to be difficult, as “all elephant herds tend to look alike.” The boy is heartbroken
to leave the elephant, and the elephant is depicted as crying for its captor,
but the boy consoles himself with the belief that the elephant is “back home in
Africa where he belongs.” This unfortunate book, painted in cheerful yellows
and blues, completely overlooks the reality that poaching and rehoming have rendered
African elephants near extinction. Reading the elephant as a metaphor for
African humans, it’s even more unfortunate. With many countries throughout the
continent of Africa struggling to reclaim the resources and dignity stolen for
generations, this book plays it for laughs.

A hard pass. (Picture book. 5-8)

kirkusreviews.com

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