THE ELEPHANTS COME HOME
A True Story of Seven Elephants, Ten People, and One Extraordinary Friendship
By: Kim Tomsic
Illustrated by: Hadley Hooper
Published: May 18, 2021
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Thula Thula is a wildlife sanctuary that covers 11,000 acres of African bush, savanna, and forest. Animals are protected here and no hunting is allowed. Lawrence and Francoise began this life work so rhinos can splash in the river, the zebras can graze the savanna, and even the crocodiles can swim in the Gwala Gwala dam peacefully. The animals at Thula Thula are completely protected, loved, and cared for, yet allowed to roam as if they were living in the wild. Lawrence was told about a herd of elephants that had become angry and the village people were afraid that they would charge through their town, destroying homes and hurting citizens. Lawrence had never taken care of elephants before, but he agreed.
When the elephants arrived they were scared, angry, and nervous. So, Lawrence had to change his approach with the elephants. He became known as the elephant whisperer and created a safe place for the elephants to live out the rest of their lives.
I have to admit, this story brought me to tears, which is rare for a children’s book. This is uniquely written for children and adults to love. The illustrations put me in the African safari with the color tones and the watercolor-like illustrations were beautiful. This story is more than just about Lawrence and Francoise and their sanctuary, but about how elephants adapt and react to their surroundings. Elephants are very intuitive animals, are very loyal, and stay close to their family. How these elephants repaid Lawrence and Francoise for their kindness was truly amazing. If you would like to know more about their efforts, please visit their website, thulathula.com. I’ve also included links below for adult books written about this experience.
This would make for a great classroom read-aloud if you are doing a unit on Africa or on animal habitats. It’s also a beautiful book for a home library and maybe even if your family is looking for a charity or something to become passionate about. There are numerous resources listed at the end of the book for more information about this sanctuary and elephants, in general.
Kim Tomsic is also the author of the nonfiction picture book Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World. Kim is the mother of two children and divides her time between Boulder, Colorado, and Scottsdale, Arizona. She serves on the board of her father’s charity (Friends of Haiti) and is the Co-Regional Advisor of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Kim is the owner of one sweet dog named Sushi. In the past, she has housed cats, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, hermit crabs, tadpoles, geckos, lizards, and even a snake named Snaky. For more information, check out her website, HERE.
Hadley Hooper is an illustrator and painter. Some of her previous books include the award-winning The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse and Mabel and Sam at Home. This is her eighth picture book. She lives in Denver with her partner, Hugh, and dog, Augie. Elephants are her favorite animals, but dogs are a very close second.