Once Upon an Elephant
by Linda Stanek

Price at time of review: $17.95
32 pp.
Arbordale Publishing
Mount Pleasant, SC
ISBN: 9781628557312

Grade Level: K-3

Reviewed by Judy Kraus
Science Teacher, Hyde Park Middle School

Interconnectivity, biodiversity, and survival are intricately woven into the tale, Once Upon an Elephant. This keystone species is a critical link in the ecosystem, maintaining balance for all its inhabitants. Their longevity, sometimes more than 50 years, enables them to continue to make an impact for many years in the savanna. As rivers ran dry or salt was needed, the elephant dug into the ground providing both nutrients for their herd as well as additional species ranging from zebras and antelopes to baboons. As they trekked across the earth, deep footprints left by these enormous creatures weighing up to 6350kg, provided a place for water to pool for insects, frogs, and small rodents. The elephant removed and ate saplings, allowing open fields to grow for the gazelles, as well as the mongoose and lion hunts. Pods devoured were passed into the elephant dung for additional trees to grow. Fires were halted by the trampled grassland paths formed by the elephant.

Once Upon an Elephant, by Linda Stanek is a wonderful picture book that instills the love and respect for each individual organism as part of an ecosystem. Shennan Bersani’s illustrations are colorful sketches of the life of the elephant. Poaching and habitat loss threaten its very existence. Disappearance of the elephant would be detrimental to the entire African savanna.

Review posted on 5/2/2016

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