Alan Durant and Anna Doherty
Holding a mirror up to us is this story wherein elephants Junior, Lulu and their parents visit Human Town. Whereas their parents suggest it’s likely to be a boring place, the offspring consider it cool.
On arrival they first peruse the list of rules and then start wandering around, Dad warning of the potential dangers and unpredictably of humans. They pause to watch people entering shops empty- handed and coming out with bags stuffed full of ‘things’. Things, says Dad, make humans happy. The young elephants are shocked to learn that some humans eat sheep, chickens and cows. “You can’t judge them like us, … they’re wild animals,” is Dad’s comment.
The football game is a disappointment; but even worse is the stream full of rubbish and the foul-smelling air, both the results of human carelessness and hence points out Mum, one of the reasons they are dying out;
so too is the “farting car” Junior spies. The church, cinema and school are completely empty: not a human in any of them; and those outside their homes are shown fighting one another
while inside others watch a boring thing called ‘Teevee”.
Then totally unimpressed, the elephants stop for a family picnic before returning home. First though Junior asks one final question about the likelihood of humans becoming extinct. Mum’s answer along with her young one’s response on the last page are thought-provokingly alarming.
Cleverly presenting consumerism, conflict, pollution and the vital importance of the environment and protecting animals, this book is an excellent starting point for discussions with children on those themes. Yes it’s wryly humorous, but the truths of what we see and read are evident the world over: we can no longer turn our backs on what is happening on this planet that we – humans and wildlife – share.