Review: The Elephants Come Home (A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People, and One Extraordinary Friendship)

The Elephants Come Home
Author: Kim Tomsic
Illustrator: Hadley Hooper
Chronicle Books
Ages 4-8

This is the true-life story of a couple who takes in a herd of angry, hurting, hunted elephants into his no-hunting-zone reserve and forms a special bond with them. The story is riveting and moving, the illustrations stunning.

I honestly don’t want to tell you more of the story because this was such a lost opportunity.

In 2021, to talk about a Caucasian couple living in South Africa (the name of the country doesn’t even make it into the book), without any nod to how these folks came to be there (colonialism) is in itself quite a misstep. 

But let’s also examine this idea that a White man had to save these wild, uncontrollable creatures and tame them through his kind and gentle nature. This trope is old and frankly in this day and age I am surprised it is still being trotted out. The conservation movement across the continent is riddled with stories of displacement, white supremacy, white saviorism and the racist ideas and policies that are the foundation and the drumbeat of the movement to this day.

I am not discounting that this couple have a special bond with these animals, but to share this story, in this day and age, without context or explanation is unconscionable. 

If you want to read more, here are some great resources:

The Racist, Colonial Dynamic at the Heart of African Conservation Policy

How the environmental justice movement is gathering momentum in South Africa.

Statement on systemic and pervasive racism within the environmental field.

My thanks to Chronicle Books for providing a Review Copy of this book. All opinions provided herein are my own.

More books for this Age Group can be found here.

Please, leave comments! I love a HEALTHY exchange of ideas. After all, critical thinking is essential to life.

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