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Book Review: The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

This book, The Elephant Whisperer, kept me on the edge of my seat the entire two days it took me to finish it.

Considering that I was reading it on my cell phone the whole time because my Kindle needs to be emptied before I can load any more books, it’s amazing that I even stuck it out.   Out of forty-two chapters, there wasn’t a single dud.  I read it because I was intrigued when someone  wrote that when Lawrence Anthony died, the elephants mourned.

We all have problems and obstacles when we follow our dreams, but this man had more than most.  He bought a 5,000 acre game reserve in Zululand, South Africa called Thula Thula.  He had the ability to get, not only wild elephants to listen to him, but also local police, local political leaders including tribal leaders from warring tribes.  He conquered poaching problems, floods, and built a thriving lodge in the midst of this reserve full of all kinds of wild animals, the largest being the elephants.

These desperate, wild elephants uprooted trees weighing several tons and crashed through electric fencing to escape the reserve and run free in towns and countryside where EVERYONE from poachers to police wanted to shoot them.  The logistics of capturing, transporting and keeping animals of this strength and determination were mind-boggling.  His story of training and taming them without domesticating them kept me transfixed and absorbed for about two days.

One of the major characteristics that comes out about Lawrence Anthony besides his ability to work hard in horrible circumstances, is his humility.  He credited everyone for the wonderful ways they contributed to his project, and in so doing inspired immense loyalty.  Possibly just as amazing was his companion, Franςoise.  She combatted snakes, and nursed a dying 280 pound baby elephant in her spare bedroom – well the run of the house, actually.  She ran the lodge, made and served gourmet French cuisine, and finally after living with the man who didn’t mind having elephant slobber all over his body for 15 years planned and executed their surprise wedding.

Elephants and the Common Core

Remembering that the Common Core is all about non-fiction, and integrating science, social studies, and technology, this book will do it all – especially if students are reading it on their iPhones as I was.  In spite of it’s length this is an engaging read for upper elementary students and above.  It is also a great one to engage male readers, who statistically respond both to animals and adventure.

Anthony’s story of survival, love, adventure, drama, and caring for both animals, the environment and culture of the people will inspire and challenge everyone to meet their own challenges with courage and innovation.

Featured Blog

Featured BlogThe perfect blog to feature today is one of another adventurer, Amy at shareandconnect.  I have heaped awards on Amy’s shoulders, and I have enjoyed her company, her uplifting comments on my blog for many months, but tonight I spent time just thumbing through her blog, reading the back pages, and the more I read, the more I liked.  This wonder woman has been everywhere.  If it has a trail, she climbed it.  If it’s beautiful, she’s photographed it.

Here’s a peek.  You are going to want to set aside some time and just go browse in her museum of photos.

You can thank me later because you’ll be richer for it!  Enjoy Share and Connect, you’ll be glad you connected.  🙂  Marsha


47 replies »

    • You won’t put it down until you finish!!! How are you doing Lisa? I want to get over and visit more sites, but I do it mostly at night when the internet service is unlimited. I stayed up to 3:15 last night, but finally was ready to conk out as your message came in. YOU were up early!!!!!!! 🙂


  1. I love you blog. I admire the way you post your thoughts and value your insights. I’m absolutely flattered and honored to be on your featured blog, especially on the post with this great book review. I’m going to download it in a few minutes. Thank you, Marsha!


  2. It sounds like a great book. If I could getan audio version, I think I would enjoy it! I sit long enough to read so I listen. Then I can do 2 things at once. I just need to go on more long trips or clean out more drawers.

    I really hope Common Core does get us back to real education no just memorizing “stuff” for a test. We need more Social Studies people like you to get the State Dept of Ed back on track! Coming from Voc Ed – Which is almost dead in Calif.- We need to get back to teaching students how to think! Thanks for all your efforts.


    • Yes. Encourage all your teacher friends to join California Council for the Social Studies. The $60 a year fee goes to support an advocate in legislature, and we have managed to get some legislation passed. It also covers a scholarly journal, a newsletter, discounts on a conference, opportunities to serve in a state and local capacity, and local membership in San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies (SJVCSS) which has lots of things going on. Maybe I should do an article about that for the Foothills Magazine. We have a conference coming up in March. I’ve written an article for History Day and Tulare County Historical Society’s involvement. I should be sending that in later today. I’m so excited about all these connections we can make for each other, Sally!!!


  3. I grew up with an elephant, a dear great auntie to me (my oldest human friend, who doesn’t understand my love of Nature programmes, deeming them “depressing” {WHAT?!!} would acridly remind me that babs is not related to elephants no matter how much she deludes herself…this friend spanning back nearly a score is not always saccharine or excessively kindly to this old elephant-lass…), right, well, my great aunt’s name was Echo. When she died in 2010, I grieved her deeply…I’d known her since I was two. Here is a wee video of her.

    So…I suspect I will be mad for this book. I am very inspired just reading your delightful review. What a most intriguing and inspiring man…Elephant slobber would be just my thing, too.

    P.S. Your reading the entire saga via phone-land is astounding to this old hag! That dratted old friend of mine would be reminding me now to “get with the times, babs, you old tweed sack! You and your decrepit ways…” Well…she would not say tweed sack. That is a babs translation. Anyhow, I am very impressed. Gravyo.

    I will be seeking out this book (been planning on it since I first noticed its title in another post, but after reading this review, I am MOST keen now). Wonderful article, well done!! And YUS students should definitely read this. I may have to swipe a copy to send to my niece. Perfect. Cheers lass,

    Autumn Jade


    • I did think of you when I read about his often slobbery countenance. The story of Ebony is very touching. Who knew??? Elephants are very amazing. I haven’t been well informed about elephants until the recent past, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and he has written several. I’m sure you would devour them all, my friend. 🙂


  4. Reblogged this on A Thousand Finds and commented:
    I met blogger Marsha Ingrao on the NaNoWriMo blog hop in December. We were excited to find out that we both were educators and both reviewed books.

    For my weekend book review, I’m sharing her review of The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony, here. As she says, this book will interest a wide variety of readers and integrate science and social studies if you are looking to use it in the classroom. And you really can’t go wrong with elephants! I’m looking forward to reading it myself.

    Check out the rest of her Travel and History blog here at:

    Liked by 1 person




Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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