Great Review of Elephant Journey

Pickle Me This Review of Elephant Journey

November 6, 2015

Elephant Journey The True Story of Three Zoo Elephants and their Rescue from Captivity by Rob Laidlaw and Brian Deines

Elephant Journey: The True Story of Three Zoo Elephants and their Rescue from Captivity, by Rob Laidlaw and Brian Deines, is 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 the story of the two elephants from the Toronto Zoo who were brought there from African in the 1970s, when our understanding of the culture and purpose of zoos was very different, and one more who was born in captivity, all of whom failed to thrive in a northern climate so unsuited to their species. (For more about the zoo and elephants, read Nicholas Hune-Brown’s 2010 article, “What the Elephants Know”.)

After much political wrangling (which Laidlaw mercifully omits from his version of the tale), it was decided that the three elephants were to be moved to an animal sanctuary in California. And that amazing journey is the focus of this story, how the elephants were made accustomed to their crates, which where then picked up by giant cranes and loaded onto flatbed trailers towed by trucks. (And I love the illustration of the truck, being accompanied by a police car, headlights, streetlights, and flashing lights in the night; Deines is good at drawing trucks, one of which was a focus of Number 21, by Nancy Hundal, another book of his that we’ve enjoyed.)

The elephants make their way past surprised border guards, through the American midwest, and up and down the mountains in Utah and Nevada, where the brakes on one truck begin to overheat, but all is well after the driver douses them with water. And then the elephants arrive, become comfortable enough to leave their crates, and begin to acquaint themselves with their new neighbours, new surroundings and new lives.

Four pages of photographs, fact boxes and additional text add context and background to Laidlaw’s story, though the book stands well enough on its own without it. It’s a harrowing story with a most hopeful ending, and will make a definite impression on readers of all ages.

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Dragon Lode Review of Cat Champions

Dragon Lode International Books
Spring, 2015

Cat lovers around the world will celebrate this well-written nonfiction selection. Animal advocate Rob Laidlaw, weaves interesting facts, photographs, and profiles of the real cat champions. All around the globe, there are children and teens who volunteer and care for abandoned cats. For example, some of the cat champions include the students of Clay High and Dryden High School who built cat shelters to help feral cats during the cold winter months. In six chapters, Laidlaw includes information about various cat breeds, cat adoption, foster parenting, and fundraising efforts. The back matter includes a cat lover’s pledge, additional resources, glossary, and index. This informative book celebrates our feline friends while also raising awareness about kids who make a difference.

—Mary Napoli, Penn State Harrisburg, Middletown, PA

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Elephant Journey Now Available for Pre-order

Elephant Journey now available for pre-order from all the usual booksellers.


McNally Robinson


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National Science Teachers Association Recommends 5 Elephants

Read review online HERE.

5 Elephants

Reviewed by Karen Nesbit
Kindergarten teacher

How much do we really know about elephants? Are elephants as intelligent as some folks say they are? Do they play a key role in the ecosystems where they originated and now are living? Did you know elephants hug each other?

In his new book Rob Laidlaw, author and animal protectionist, tells the stories of 5 Elephants. Young readers will meet Echo, Lucy, Tusko, Tarra and Thandora, and learn about their lives in the wild and in captivity. There are many challenges facing elephants and these stories will educate and inspire. Elephants are in trouble and need our help. Discover what you can do to help and become an Elephant Guardian. Anyone who loves animals will love this book!

Review posted on 5/18/2015

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5 Elephants on ILA List for 2015

5 Elephants has been included on the International Literary Association Teachers’ Choice 2015 Reading List. See the whole list at ILA Teachers’ Choice 2015 Reading List.

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Canadian Children’s Booknews Review of 5 Elephants

CC Booknews Spring 2015 - 5 Elephants Review

The Classroom Bookshelf, Animals Big and Small

By Sandra O’Brien, Canadian Children’s Booknews, Spring 2015

Review of 5 Elephants

In order for readers to come to know elephants as individuals, Rob Laidlaw has written a book that tells the stories of five famous elephants. Each touching story will help students to better understand that elephants, both in the wild and in captivity, are in trouble and need our help now. Elephants are incredibly social animals and should not live alone. They also need great expanses to wander through in order to thrive. In the wild, elephants experience a diversity of natural sights, sounds, smells and textures every day. Poaching for ivory, the destruction of elephant habitats and human-elephant conflicts are major threats to elephant populations. Laidlaw explains the differences between zoos and sanctuaries and about the many people around the world who work tirelessly to help elephants. Laidlaw refers to these people as Elephant Guardians and talks about the ways kids can get involved in elephant protection.

This is an excellent resource that will introduce kids to or get them talking about animal protection, the challenges of captivity and the endangerment of elephants in the wild. Laidlaw has written a comprehensive book that will help children understand more about these magnificent creatures and their way of life. The layout and design of the book have been well thought out and beautifully presented. The abundance of photographs will appeal to younger children and the content will keep older students engaged and fascinated. Written for students in the late primary and junior grades, this is a resource that should adorn the shelves of classrooms and libraries everywhere.

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5 Elephants Nomination for Hackmatack Award

5 Elephants has been nominated for the 2015/2016 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award.

The Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award is a reading program designed to advance literacy and foster a joy of reading among Atlantic Canadian children in Grades 4, 5 and 6. Hackmatack selection committees made up of teachers, librarians and young readers carefully review over 200 new children’s books written and published in Canada. The selection is narrowed down to 40 titles: ten English fiction, ten English non-fiction, ten French fiction and ten French non-fiction.

No Shelter Here, Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs was the 2014 English Non-Fiction Award Winner and Cat Champions, Caring for Our Feline Friends is a nominee for this year’s award.

Find out more HERE

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Two more reviews of 5 Elephants




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Two Good Books About Cats

Originally published April 6, 2014, North Bay Nipissing News

Cat Champions: Caring For Our Feline Friends

Rob Laidlaw
Pajama Press Inc.
2013, 64 pages
ISBN: 9781927485545
ages 8+

Cats are wonderful animals. Unfortunately, millions of cats around the world suffer needlessly. If this suffering is to be significantly reduced future generations will have to do a much better job protecting cats than past generations have done.

Education will play a key role in improving the lives of cats and Cat Champions: Caring For Our Feline Friends by Rob Laidlaw informs the reader about these amazing animals and how they can help them. Topics covered include a description of cats, feral cats, cat colonies, cat shelters, cat sanctuaries, and more.

Throughout the book “Cat Champions” are featured. These inspiring stories highlight the good work done for cats by young people in areas such as fund raising, socializing, educating, adopting, fostering, volunteering etc. You will also read about important subjects such as socializing cats, the importance of neutering (spaying/castrating) and the importance of adopting cats in need – including adopting adult cats.

Much needs to be done to minimize the suffering of cats. Reading Cat Champions: Caring For Our Feline Friends and following some of the advice and inspirational examples is a good start. This book is an ideal one for families considering getting a feline family member to read together. It is also an important one for teachers to read and discuss with their students.

Paw Prints at Owl Cottage

Denis O’Connor
Thomas Dunne Books
2013, 232 pages
ISBN: 9780312577070

I enjoyed reading Denis O’Connor’s book Paw Prints in the Moonlight. The book was about O’Connor rescuing a kitten, whom he called Toby Jug, and their life together at Owl Cottage in Northumberland, England.

Paw Prints at Owl Cottage continues O’Connor’s life with cats as Denis and his wife Catherine return to Owl Cottage where they restore the house – and acquire four more Maine Coon cats: Pablo, Carlos, Luis and Max. Reading about Denis and Catherine’s lives with their feline companions is entertaining, often heartwarming and occasionally heart-wrenching.

Animal books written from personal accounts are usually a joy to read. Books written by James Herriot and Denis O’Connor fall into this category. Complementing the entertaining stories are eight colour pages of paintings of the cats in these books. Paw Prints at Owl Cottage is a nice follow-up to Paw Prints in the Moonlight and highly recommended for those with feline family members.

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Cat Champions nominated for
2015 Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award

Nominated Titles for 2015 Forest of Reading® Programs Announced Canadian Authors Selected For Children’s Choice Reading Program Award


TORONTO, ON (October 15, 2014) – The Ontario Library Association’s (OLA) Forest of Reading program presents this year’s English and French nominees for the Forest of Reading. Committees of library practitioners select the nominated titles, and readers vote for the winners in Spring 2015.


The Forest of Reading is an initiative of the Ontario Library Association and is Canada’s largest
recreational reading program of its kind. There are eight award programs distinguished by age group and reading level: Blue Spruce, Silver Birch, Red Maple, White Pine, and Golden Oak. French literature is celebrated through the Le Prix Tamarac and the Le Prix Peuplier programs. “Each reading list contains books that capture the imagination, provoke discussion, or just prompt laughing out loud,” says Shelagh Paterson, Executive Director, OLA. “All of the nominated titles introduce young readers to the talent and diversity of Canadian authors and illustrators.”

The Forest helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors and illustrators and encourages a love of reading in people of all ages. Over 250,000 readers participate annually through their schools or public libraries. All Canadians are invited to participate via their schools, local public libraries, literacy centres or at home.

The winners of the 2015 Forest of Reading Awards will be announced live at the Festival of Trees™ in May 2015. “It’s the greatest author’s event in the world. The kids are great, enthusiastic,” Kevin Sylvester says, former Forest nominee and winner about the Festival. “You all do an incredible amount of work organizing a whole whack of stuff and it goes off without a hitch.”

Public Libraries across Ontario have the nominated titles and some offer a Forest of Reading® book club – visit your local library to start reading! Check out the Forest of Reading Facebook and Twitter pages! #ForestofReading2015

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2015 Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award