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Kim Tomsic

Monday, May 8, 2023

The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People, and One Extraordinary Friendship


Winner of the Keystone to Reading Award!

Winner of the Norman A. Sugarman Honor!

Nominated for the2023-2024  California Young Readers Award!

Nominated for the 2024 Beehive Award!

Nominated for the 2024 Nutmeg Award!

The Elephants Come Home (ISBN: 978-1452127835) is the amazing true story of a herd of elephants, the man who saved them, and the miracle of love that brought them home.

DO YOU DO SCHOOL VISITSAbsolutely! I'd love to your speak to your students in person live or via ZoomContact me here. We can customize a visit, or you can check out my menu of school visit options here.

One day in 1999, Lawrence Anthony and Françoise Malby Anthony receive word that a herd of wild African elephants need a new home. They welcome the elephants to their wildlife sanctuary—Thula Thula—with open arms. But the elephants are much less sure they want to stay. How will Lawrence prove to them that they are safe and loved? What follows is a gorgeously illustrated real-life story of friendship . . . and the story of the miraculous way that love given freely will return—greater and more wonderful than it began.

Critical Praise:

“[A] moving true story. . . (Have tissues handy.) [The Elephants Come Homes] flawless, gentle pacing [and] pages with saturated, eye-catching teal, copper, and emerald hues. . . . heighten the story’s emotional impact. . .”The Horn Book Magazine

“In brief action-packed sentences, Tomsic informs readers of all the steps taken to bring [the elephants] back, with the text placed against Hooper’s beautifully realized illustrations of African animals and the vast, gorgeous landscape…with its focus on the elephants and the protagonists, this book is lovely, tender, and moving.”       Kirkus Reviews

 This touching true story portrays conservationist Lawrence Anthony’s relationship with a frightened, hunted herd that found a home at his reserve in South Africa, Thula Thula..The importance of conservation shines through the friendship story here, and both themes are beautifully complemented by Hooper’s detailed, atmospheric drawings of the elephants and their surroundings.”—Booklist

The illustrations are expansive with a limited color palette of warm oranges and cool greens and blues. The animal characters are dynamic, humorous, and emotive. . . . A sentimental but high-­interest story based on true events of the bond between wild animals and the humans who care for them, suitable for early elementary students.”         School Library Journal

Copies are available at Changing Hands Bookstore

• TOUCHING ANIMAL FRIENDSHIPS: Owen and Mzee, Tarra and Bella, Rescue and Jessica . . . touching true stories of the emotional bonds possible between species are charming, and speak to the limitlessness of love.
ELEPHANTS: Elephants are one of the most fascinating and charming wild animals in all of nature. This heartwarming true story will intrigue & inspire children, turning the most reluctant readers into elephant enthusiasts.
• CONSERVATION THEME: This book tells the true story of caring for one of the world's most beloved endangered animals: the African elephant. This book is a great, upbeat jumping-off point for discussions of the importance of preserving endangered species and their environments.
• ENGAGING NONFICTION: There's no better way to get readers hooked on factual books than to offer them real-life stories with heart and meaning.
• STRONG CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS: The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) emphasize learning about animal habitats/biomes in K–2 curriculums, while later grades address topics like conservation and endangered species. With a depth of research and an engaging, highly visual narrative, this book is an excellent resource for librarians and primary school educators.

Perfect for ages 4-9:
• Kindergarten and elementary school teachers           Lovers of animals, wildlife, and the natural world
• Parents and grandparents                                         Zoo and natural history museumgoers
• Librarians                                                                  Parents and Kids of all ages


Ms. Goldberg said...

I just purchased and read “Elephants Come Home” and want to tell you what a lovely retelling of Lawrence Anthony’s experience you have created. Your words capture his understanding of animals and their needs, and the illustrations by Hadley Hooper are a perfect accompaniment/interpretation. As a story of elephants and a special man, this is a book filled with love for both. But I do have a question for you; it concerns the use of your Author’s Note (or afterword). This particular picture book would not have been the place to tackle the important problems of post-colonialism and apartheid, but both definitely had influence in the life of Anthony and, more importantly, on his country, the POC who live there and especially the Zulu people. I’d like to know why you chose not to mention these problems in your Note, problems whose effects linger and are not forgotten by this story but, admittedly, are better handled in a different sort of book for children. In my opinion it would have helped to acknowledge these are impactful problems and it would have given some context to the librarians, teachers, parents, and other adults reading the book to children.

Kim Tomsic said...

Hello, Ms. Goldberg.

Thank you for your note. I apologize for the delay in replying so very late. It's only because I am upgrading the security features on my blog that I came across your thoughtful message.

You've given me food for thought for future books. You are correct in noting that post-colonialism apartheid are important issues to address. Thank you for highlighting this. In answer, I did not exclude this information for a political reason. My goal with the story was to keep a simple and narrowed focus on trust, loss, and the magical connection between humans and animals. Like you mention, a broader look and acknowledging these issues could've provided librarians, teachers, and other adults more context on Zulu people.

I appreciate that you took the time to share this omission. It's always helpful for me to gain understanding about what concerns readers come across with my books. Thank you for letting me know what felt great and what I missed. I always appreciate the chance to stretch and learn how I can serve in providing children with a valuable reading experience.


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