The Elephant’s New Shoe by Laurel Neme

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.”

Sysnopsis:

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.

Bionic Beasts by Jolene Gutierrez

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Bionic Beasts: Saving Animal Lives with Artificial Flippers, Legs, and Beaks

Jolene Gutiérrez, Author

Millbrook Press, Nonfiction, Oct. 6, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 9-14

Themes: Animals, Injuries, Rescue, Veterinary Surgery, Prosthetics, Bionics, Designs and Technology

Opening: “Not long ago, a bird without a beak might have starved to death. An elephant without a foot would have hobbled painfully, permanently damaging her spine and remaining legs. Now animals like these are becoming bionic beasts, animals who have artificial body parts that help them move or function.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

What happens when a young elephant steps on a buried land mine? What happens when a sea turtle’s flipper is injured by a predator? Thanks to recent advances in technology, we have new ways to design and build prosthetic body parts that can help these animals thrive.

Meet an Asian elephant named Mosha, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle named Lola, a German Shepherd named Cassidy, a greylag goose named Vitória, and Pirate, a Berkshire-Tamworth pig. Each of these animals was struggling, but through a variety of techniques and technologies, humans created devices that enabled the animals to live and move more comfortably. Discover the stories of how veterinarians, doctors, and even students from around the world used 3D printing and other techniques to build bionic body parts for these amazing animals.

Why I like this book:

Jolene Gutiérrez’s Bionic Beasts is both engaging and heartwarming. It will appeal to animals lovers, budding scientists, engineers and innovators. She introduces readers to five animals from the United States, Canada, Brazil and India, who have been helped to lead more normal lives by veterinarians, scientists, prosthetists, orthotists, engineers and college students working with 3D printing. So much thoughtful research went into the writing of this extraordinary book. And I feel lucky to share it with you!

The book is beautifully designed and easy to read. Each chapter features a different animal. The flowing narrative draws readers into the center of the action by sharing information on each animal injury, the healing process, the impact on the animal’s body and the teams that work together to find solutions to make devices that will help, and the progress each animal makes. There are sidebars about the animal species, special surgeries. 3-D printing, and animal sanctuaries.  Gorgeous color photographs adorn every page chronicling the design stages from beginning to end, when the animal is swimming with its new fin, walking with a prosthetic leg, or feeding and preening its babies with a new beak.

Readers are also challenged with STEM activities for each animal.  For example, there are directions for students to experiment with different gelatins to design a flexible fin for the turtle or build a robotic hand to mimic how the elephant will bend its leg in a prosthetic leg. Jolene always asks the question, “can you improve upon the design?” After all, students from 8th grade to college, helped in developing the original designs.

Bionic Beasts is a wonderful resource for middle grade school libraries or for parents who homeschool.  It’s also a perfect Christmas gift. The material is age appropriate and can be read aloud to younger elementary students. There’s a teacher’s guide on Jolene’s website.

Jolene Gutiérrez has always loved animals. She grew up on a farm where she rode horses, bottle-fed calves, chased kittens, and raised tadpoles that grew into toads. She’s been a school librarian for 25 years and lives in Colorado with her husband, two teenage kids, three preteen dogs, and one prickly hedgehog. Learn more at Jolene’s website.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the MMGM link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy won in a book giveaway by the author on Beth Anderson, Children’s Writer blog, in exchange for a review.