Elephant Journey: The True Story of Three Zoo Elephants and their Rescue from Captivity

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Elephant Journey: The True Story of Three Zoo Elephants and their Rescue from Captivity

By Rob Laidlaw
Illustrated by Brian Deines
Picture Book Ages 6–9
ISBN: 978-1-927485-77-4
List Price: $22.95 CAD / $19.95 USD
Hardcover with dust jacket
Trim Size: 27.94 x 24.13 cm / 11 x 9.5 inches
Pages: 40
Includes aftermatter with photographs and index

Canadian Publication Date: November 3, 2015
U.S. Publication Date: April 1, 2016

Distributed in the United States by Ingram Publisher Services

Rights Available: World ex. North America

“I highly recommend that you read Elephant Journey.  Rob Laidlaw and Brian Deines have produced a beautiful story in colour of the rescue of three elephants from a zoo, and their heartwarming arrival at the PAWS sanctuary where they can live out their lives as the good Lord intended.”—Bob Barker, game show host and animal rights activist

In 2013, people across North America were riveted by the story of Toka, Thika, and Iringa, the last three elephants at the zoo in Toronto, Ontario. Lonely for a larger herd, sick from the cold climate, and weak from standing for long days in a too-small concrete enclosure, the elephants desperately needed a change. The zoo and animal activists agreed that they should be moved to a healthier home, but the best option—the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in distant California—seemed like an impossible dream.

In Elephant Journey, leading activist and award-winning author Rob Laidlaw unfolds the journey of how that impossible dream was realized. In clear, straightforward prose, he describes the elephants’ experiences on the journey of three days and 4,100 kilometers that brought them to the sanctuary at last. Celebrated illustrator Brian Deines’ oil paintings, based on actual footage of the trip, provide an intimate window into the experiences of Toka, Thika, and Iringa as they braved their long road to a new life. Extensive back matter includes an index, photographs, and further information about this miraculous Elephant Journey.

Awards and Honours:
2017 Forest of Reading Silver Birch Express nominee
2016–2017 Hackmatack Award nominee
2016 Red Cedar Book Award nominee
2016 Best Books for Kids & Teens selection

“An appealing animal-rescue book.”—Booklist

“Seeing Toka, Iringa, and Thika finally free to explore their new home—80 acres of glowing grasslands—will likely bring relief to sensitive readers. Photographs and additional rescue details round out a sensitive account of animal activism and rehabilitation.”—Publishers Weekly

“Beautiful oil paintings with the softness of pastels—all double-page spreads on generously sized pages—capture important moments in the story…. Art and text create a moving tale.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Laidlaw chronicles the trip, combining key facts with absorbing storytelling. His forthright narrative is complemented by Deines’s luminous oil paintings, which expertly use color and light to track the emotional trajectory of the elephants from discomfort and misery to anxiety and fear and then, finally, to delight and contentment…A supplementary appendix includes background information and photographs of the actual trip. VERDICT A great addition for lessons on wildlife and the ethics of zoos.” —School Library Journal

“The illustrations mirror the text in the positive, honest way they depict the central characters….Elephant Journey is an important book…Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine

“The art of Brian Deines shows the similarities between the Californian highlands and the savannahs of Africa, in contrast to the snowy concrete world of the Toronto Zoo, which adds much to the character and enjoyment of this book.”—Resource Links

“The story [frames] the difficulties of wild animals in captivity and our changing understanding of zoos and their purposes….Laidlaw’s words and Deines’ illustrations work perfectly together to bring this tale to life.”49th Shelf

“Complemented with excellent illustrations by Brian Deines and photographs, Elephant Journey is an important book, with an important message, that parents, teachers and other educators would be wise to share with their children.”Metroland Media

“[A] thought-provoking read for kids. Told in easy-to-understand language, it’s the story of a complicated effort to retire three elephants from the Toronto Zoo to an open-air animal sanctuary in California.”—Victoria Times Colonist

“This uplifting tale has a hopeful ending and is a great introduction to elephants and animal activism for younger kids.”—Toronto Public Library

“Put this one on display to attract a wider audience and recommend to kids and adults who like elephants and want to learn about their plight in captivity.”—Youth Services Book Review

“This serves as a gentle introduction to animal rights suitable for third grade and up. Pair with other picture books about animals in captivity whose situations were improved.…”—Youth Services Books Review

“Brian Deines’ fabulous oil paintings…accurately portray for interested readers the joy and bravery of these magnificent pachyderms…Back matter includes clear and appealing photographs, captioned with accurate and much appreciated further information.”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“A fantastic non-fiction book that uses the power of narrative (and the award-winning Deines’ gorgeous illustrations) to bring complex issues of animal protection to life… It’s a harrowing story with a most hopeful ending, and will make a definite impression on readers of all ages.”—Pickle Me This

“This 40-page book does a beautiful job of telling a powerful story that demonstrates why sanctuaries, animal activists, and nonprofits are so important: because they help real animals who have endured so much, like Toka, Thika, and Iringa, and are making great strides towards creating a world free from harm, free of captivity. Recommended.”—Vegbooks

“This book will appeal to young readers ages eight to 10 who love animal stories.”—Calgary Herald

“Laidlaw, an animal protection activist, tells the story in this fascinating picture book…. Illustrator Brian Deines based his lovely oil paintings on photographs of the elephants’ journey and new life in California.”—The Booklist Reader

Elephant Journey is a great book, and I see a lot of value in it.”—Alohamora Open a Book