The Elephant Keeper: Caring for Orphaned Elephants in Zambia, Margriet Ruurs, Pedro Covo (illustrator), Kids Can Press, 2017.

Margriet Ruurs and Pedro Covo give a fresh look at some of the planet’s largest land mammals – the elephant.

A True Story

Ruurs brings to the pages the real-life story of a Zambian boy Aaron who discovers an infant elephant in the Lion’s Lodge swimming pool. Thanks to Aaron’s attentiveness and efforts, the young elephant is rescued and taken to a local elephant orphanage.

Aaron is able to make a connection with the elephant that others are not. Grieving the death of his father Aaron can relate to the orphaned elephant. The boy finds himself growing up sooner than other boys in his village. The elephant has likely lost its mother to poachers. The elephant and the boy have to figure how to do life differently.

At the same time, Zambezi, the name the keepers give the young elephant, provides Aaron with a purpose. It is a niche that Aaron did not know he had. The keepers allow Aaron to visit Zambezi, and when he does, he is the only person who is able to get the elephant to drink milk.Aaron is offered a job at the orphanage, and he excepts it. In doing so, he learns a lot about the dangers to elephants.

An Educational Story

While this children’s book, great for readers ages 5-9, tells a real-life story, it also includes double-page spreads with helpful information. These pages teach children about elephant biology, the orphanage, and the endangered status of these majestic animals.

Covo’s mixed-media paintings are truly works of art. In addition to the great African landscapes, the art communicates alongside the narrative.

The Elephant Keeper is a moving story is a great addition to any library, at home or school. It is a helpful teaching tool in helping children understand the negative impact humans’ choices have on wildlife.

You can purchase your own copy by clicking on the image below:

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital review copy.