What the Elephant Heard
Charlotte Guillain and Sam Usher
(Welbeck Publishing)– hardback
Grandmother leads the elephants to water in What the Elephant Heard. It seems she is following the path of other grandmothers as she remembers the stories passed on. What’s more, she tells of times ‘of huge zebra herds‘ and ‘the roaring of lions, the bee-eater’s cry’. However everything changed for the herds when ‘strange humans and new sounds rang out;/ a clanking of metal, spades scraping, fierce shouts’. Furthermore, their machinery ‘shrieked like hyenas as they clattered by’.
This ancient ‘great-grandma‘ knew everywhere ‘on the plains’ where the ‘wildebeest followed the rains‘ to long ago ‘places where water would flow’. However, by the time grandma was born there were planes in the sky and tourist cars. Then again there were grasslands ‘thronged with gazelles and giraffe‘. Yet as she grew older, she heard the buzz of saws felling trees alongside the lowing of cattle who populated the water holes. What’s more, these cattle were fenced off. However the most terrifying sounds were those of gunshot that ‘echoed around‘. Then the elephants awaited the sound of thunder and rain that might signal water….
Charlotte Guillain invited us to contemplate What Did the Tree See? Now she takes us to the savannah to a herd of elephant reminiscing the sounds of their history. What the Elephant Heard is a moving, rhyming, descriptive non-fiction picture book. Sam Usher’s illustrations are evocative and glorious. Bookwagon recommends this superb title to readers at home and school.