Children's Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, September 2002
Page Two of Four

Hansa: The True Story of an Asian Elephant Baby by Clare Hodgson Meeker, Illustrations by Linda Feltner

Sasquatch Books, May 2002
Hardcover, 47 pages
ISBN: 1570613443
Ages 6 to 10
Ordering information: |

 by Clare Hodgson Meeker, Illustrations by Linda Feltner In the 100 year history of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, no elephant baby had ever been born. Until little Hansa, a rare and endangered Asian elephant, was born -- much to the joy and delight of the zoo personnel and the zoo visitors. Clare Hodgson Meeker details the events leading up to and after the birth of the charming baby elephant whose name means "supreme happiness" in Thailand. The herd at the Woodland zoo is all female, so the mother to be, Chai, had to make a road trip to Missouri to meet an acceptable male. Because elephants learn much of their behavior, it was a real challenge for the keepers to teach Chai how to be a mother (all but one of the elephants had never seen a baby before and didn't know how to handle it.) But with some creative thinking, the zookeepers got the new mother to bond with little Hansa (they had to build a platform for her to nurse from because she couldn't quite reach yet.).

The powerful African elephant matriarch, Watoto, welcomed little Hansa, and eventually all the other aunties figured out how to deal with the newest member of the herd. Clare Hodgson Meeker does an outstanding job of telling the story of Hansa and the other elephants. Her prose is lively and very entertaining. Accompanying the text are absolutely marvelous photographs from the Woodland Zoo, as well as informative illustrations by Linda Feltner.

According to Ms. Meeker, elephants are in danger of total extinction from our planet in 20-30 years, which is not common knowledge. Only with support of natural habitat zoos such as the Woodland Park Zoo will we be able to stop the extinction of this intelligent, noble animal. Sharing this entertaining little book with children is one way to ensure that the next generation understands and values the animal life on Earth. Highly recommended.

The Other Goose by Judith Kerr

Harper Collins, July, 2002
Picture Book, 32 pages
ISBN: 0060085835
Ages 4-8
Ordering information: |

The Other Goose
 by Judith Kerr The Other Goose is a story about loneliness and the desire to find a companion very much like oneself. Children will love Katerina, the only goose in the pond in the middle of a large city. Sometimes Katerina thought she saw another goose when she looked at her reflection in the shiny car that was parked on the street beside her pond. The car belonged to the banker who worked in the bank across the street., Mr. Buswell, the banker had a little daughter who understood Katerina's problem very well. One very snowy day Katerina looked at the car for the reflection only to find that there was no reflection, because the car was covered with snow. Katerina was sad until she saw a man coming down the street with a large bag. That bag must contain a goose, thought Katerina, so she chased the man angrily. The man ran, but Katerina flew at him and tried to nip him. She chased him until they arrived in the middle of town where the mayor was conducting a ceremony in front of many people. The man dropped the bag, which was full of money. The man was a bank robber, and Katerina had caught him. The grateful citizens wanted to reward Katerina and the banker's daughter knew just what the reward should be. The shiny car stopped by Katerina's pond and out came Charlie, a goose like Katerina. Charlie and Katerina made a nest together, Katerina laid eggs in it, and when the eggs hatched, there were lots of geese on Katerina's pond.

The Other Goose is illustrated in soft pastels, with drawings that are humorous and upbeat. A child can easily follow them and understand the story. Katerina's long wait for the other goose comes to a happy ending that any child will enjoy.

--Sarah Reaves White

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