Little Bull: The Story of Little Bull

Ellen Foley James, Author, Karl Ammann, Photographer Sterling Publishing (NY) $13.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-8069-2098-6
Ammann sets his stunning photographs of a baby elephant against a backdrop of the Kenya plains. James's poetic text describes newborn Little Bull ""wrapped like a cabbage in his big elephant ears,"" and follows his travels with his mother and their herd led by the matriarch, Grandmother Torn Ear. Readers follow Little Bull as he experiments with ""his favorite toy,... his own wriggly trunk,"" chases egrets and encounters both benign curiosities and true perils (""zebras with wavy stripes"" and a group of lionesses with ""six bright eyes staring""). Although the passage of time is unclear (Little Bull seems to have been born during the rainy season, which is followed by a drought; he sprouts tusks by book's end), and some readers will wonder why Little Bull's father is so aloof (""He stood in the shadows all night long. By morning he was gone""), most will revel in the gorgeous pictures of the African wildlife. Based on a Discovery Channel film, James's text takes on a narrative rhythm, poignance and humor (toddlers will delight at the young elephant's attempts to stand on his head, for instance), and brings cohesion to Ammann's landscapes, portraits and action photographs. Except for one aberration--a hand-drawn picture illustrating the night sky's ""bowl of bright stars""--this book stands as more than a mere adjunct to a film. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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