As someone who adores the majestic elephants that roam our planet I adored reading this book, as it tells you everything you could possibly want to know about them in a way that transforms you to the African plains alongside them, and all through rhyming verse too.
The young elephant that features on the cover of the book tells of how her grandma has passed down to their herd all of the knowledge and information that has been passed down to her by the generations too. This includes locations of watering holes, the other animal species that share the lands alongside them, and more recently about humans too.
When the grandma elephant was the youngest in her herd it was from a distance that humans began to form a part of her knowledge of her surroundings, and any interactions within it. Early versions of aeroplanes would fly overhead for example, and for the most part this didn’t change things for the elephants, but by the time the grandma elephant in this story had become the oldest herd member things couldn’t have been more different. As the young elephant in this story comes into the herd there is more and more cause for concern with regards to humans impacting their existence, including cutting off access to watering holes that they would previously visit unhindered.
This picture book is of the non-fiction genre in the sense that it is educational in content, and informative throughout, but I found it to be more like a beautiful poem that tells of the magic and marvel of elephants, and as heart breaking as it is to read of the negative impact the human race has had on elephants I am glad it features in this book, as any and all awareness drawn to this preventable tragedy facing this animal species means more of us becoming aware. We should be doing more to protect endangered animals, not be the ones responsible for endangering them, and in educating the youngest generation of picture book readers about this we can hope to improve things in the future.
The illustrations are stunning, and give off watercolour vibes. The colour palette brings the outdoors to life on the page, with clear blue skies, and lush green lands featuring in the earlier pages, and dry deserts being depicted as the book develops, and the animals are faced with more desolation and destruction at the hands of humans. Each scene depicted is as powerful as it is pretty, and full of emotion too. I love how much depth and detail has gone into the content of these illustrations, and how they compliment the text so beautifully, and will no doubt bring elephants into the hearts of a new generation of children.
Be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour by checking out the other stops as listed below. What the Elephant Heard is published by Welbeck publishing, and available to purchase from 14th October priced at £14.99 in Hardback.