The Elephant’s New Shoe: A True Rescue Story
Laurel Neme, Author
Ariel Landy, Illustrator
Orchard Books, Nonfiction, Oct. 6, 2020
Suitable for ages: 4-7 years
Themes: Elephant, Animals, Injury, Rescue center, Prosthetics, Cambodia
Opening: “Animal rescuer Nick Marx peered at the injured elephant. He and Dr. Thy had been called by a patrol team to inspect a tiny male elephant found wandering alone. His name was Chhouk.”
When Chhouk, an Asian elephant calf, was found he was alone, underweight and had a severe foot injury. Conservationist Nick Marx at the Wildlife Alliance rescued the baby elephant. With help from the Cambodian Forestry Administration, the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics, and an elephant named Lucky, Nick nursed Chhouk back to health and worked with a team to make him an artificial foot.
Will Chhouk’s new show allow the young elephant to walk again?
Why I like this book:
Laurel Neme’s true rescue of a young elephant will melt the hearts of young children and adult animal lovers alike. It is a perfect way to introduce children to wildlife that are injured and traumatized, and the loving rescue teams that commit themselves to providing expert care.
Neme’s book is a compassionate and well-crafted story about the relationship between Nick and Chhouk. From the moment Nick discovers the frightened and hurt baby elephant he calms him with his soothing voice, sleeps with him through the night, feeds him bananas and slowly gains his trust. From that point forward, Chhouk and Nick become best friends and with the help of his team, they are able to bring the baby to the rescue center to care for his missing and infected foot. Once the stub heals, Nick works with the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics to make a prosthetic foot or boot for Chhouk. Through trial and error, the team finally designs a flexible, padded, durable boot that works. As Chhouk grows, he requires a new boot every six months. The school remains his “fairy godmother.”
Children will enjoy learning that elephants have feelings like people do. Chhouk misses his mother and family, who are the center of his world. “He has no elephant love.” Fortunately an eight-year-old elephant named, Lucky, nestles Chhouk under her belly. Once Chhouk has his new boot he’s able to go on walks with Lucky, explore the forest and become part of the elephant community. Today Chhouk is a teenager and remains at the rescue center.
Ariel Landy’s warm and emotive illustrations beautifully document Chhouk’s journey. At times they are playful and show Chhouk’s joy when he’s able to walk. And they capture the loving bond between Nick and Chhouk.
Video of Chhouk and Nick Marx, Wildlife Alliance
Resources: Make sure you check out the facts included in the book about Asian and African elephants, the number of muscles in their trunks, their form of communication, and how much they eat. There is also an Author’s Note at the very end about Chhouk today along with photographs of his progress. Visit elephants at a local zoo. Check to see if there are any refuge centers near you that help injured animals. Learn more about the Wildlife Alliance website and their efforts to save elephants, tigers, gibbons, and other animals in Cambodia. For children over 8, there is a book I reviewed recently, Bionic Beasts by Jolene Gutiérrez, about a variety of animals and birds receiving artificial flippers, legs and beaks.
Laurel Neme always dreamed of helping animals. At first, she wanted to be a veterinarian like Dr. Doolittle or a scientist like Jane Goodall, but later chose to help animals in her own way — by telling their stories. She lives in Vermont with her husband, son, and super-smart German shepherd, who is learning to do the laundry. Learn more about Neme by visit her website.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
#Reviewed from a library book.