Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Balarama: A Royal Elephant

Balarama: A Royal Elephant

Fall 2009 Picture Books
Ages: 6 - 11 yrs.
Author: Betsy Lewin
Author: Ted Lewin
Illustrator: Betsy Lewin
Illustrator: Ted Lewin
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
ISBN: 978-1-60060-265-8
Hardcover Price: $19.95
Balarama is a true story that demonstrates the cultural significance of elephants in India. In the southern part of the country, the Karapur Forest and Nagarhole National Park are home to large herds of these lovely, intelligent animals. As author/illustrators Ted and Betsy Lewin point out, some of these herds are wild while others are actually "camp elephants," those trained for work, festivals and royal processions. The Lewins give readers an up-close look at a relatively unknown world, that of the mahout (elephant trainer) and the preparation of an elephant for royal duty. The story is interesting, and the illustrations are skilled and full of style; in fact, many are almost photographic in their realism and vividness. Elephant facts, an annotated list of recent royal elephants and a glossary of Indian words (from Hindi and Kannada) round out the book. This is a wonderful glimpse into Indian culture, and a moving story for animal lovers far beyond the listed age range.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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