Gr 3-6-A fine and unusual view of Asian elephants in which information is tucked away in an attention-holding narrative. Bonman, a teenaged boy, lives with his family in a village of 15 houses in the hills of Southern India. Beside nearly every house stands an elephant. He is learning to be a mahout, an elephant driver, like his father. Schmidt describes his care for and interactions with his enormous charge, Mudumalai. He also details some of the changes that have occurred in the villagers' lives since logging has been outlawed. Their forest has become a wildlife sanctuary; the boy's father works as a forest ranger and uses Mudumalai to help clear trees and protect croplands from wild animals. This slice-of-life story is most notable for its depiction of the man-to-elephant relationship-a pleasant change from standard nonfiction presentations. Clear, full-color photographs (uncaptioned) enhance the lively text. This is a fact-filled book that should prove useful for reports, but it is fascinating and entertaining reading as well.-Lisa Wu Stowe, Great Neck Library, NY
Abhayaranayam, India, is a 15-house village of elephants, their mahouts, and the mahouts' families. The beasts belong to the Indian government, but they are fed, cared for, trained, and worked by their mahouts, who formerly were nomadic tribesmen. The elephants were originally used as loggers, and they succeeded so well that they decimated the forests in the area. Now the mahouts perform jobs similar to forest rangers in a wildlife sanctuary. This book focuses on Bomman, who cares for Mudumalai, a young bull. With lively prose and high-qualit
color photographs, the lifestyle of these Kurambas people and the never-quite-domesticated elephants they live with is documented. Although to the uninitiated Mudumalai appears to have a bad case of pachyderm vitiligo on its trunk and ears, it is regarded as a brave, strong, and handsome elephant. This is a fascinating look at a majestic animal and the people who care for and live with it.