cover image Thirsty, Thirsty Elephants

Thirsty, Thirsty Elephants

Sandra Markle, illus. by Fabricio VandenBroeck. Charlesbridge, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58089-634-4

A herd of African elephants searches for water on the dry savanna in Markle (Toad Weather) and VandenBroeck’s (Whiskers, Tails & Wings) handsome picture book. Based on the true story of a Tanzanian herd that survived a 1994 drought thanks to its leader, named Big Mama by researchers, this account describes how Grandma elephant, like Big Mama, locates water for her charges. “Grandma’s thirst stirs a memory of a dry time long ago, when she was a baby,” Markle writes. “She remembers another watering hole and sets off to find it.” On the way, the herd munches leaves, digs up the cracked surface of an old watering hole, and even uses saliva to cool the youngest. Realistic watercolor and acrylic illustrations alternate between close-ups of the parched parade of pachyderms and the wider landscape, painted in layered, textured hues. Readers will breathe a sigh of relief when the watering hole finally appears and the herd frolics and drinks its fill. This tale of a lifesaving trek wraps up with an author’s note about Big Mama, additional elephant facts, and suggested resources. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)