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Children's Literature Reviews
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Faithful elephants : a true story of animals, people, and war
Yukio Tsuchiya ; illustrated by Ted Lewin ; translated by Tomoko Tsuchiya Dykes.
Contributor biographical information
Publisher description
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1988.
[32] p. : col. ill. ; 27 cm.


Translation of: Kawaiso na zo.
Recounts how three elephants in a Tokyo zoo were put to death because of the war, focusing on the pain shared by the elephants and the keepers who must starve them.

Best Books:

Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California

Reading Measurement Programs:

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Adult Directed
Lexile Measure 640

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level K-2
Reading Level 5
Title Point Value 2
Lexile Measure AD 640


CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1988)
In the last stage of World War II, Tokyo zoo staff decided to allow large zoo animals to die to prevent the chance of additional danger to people if the city were bombed. This melancholy account of an actual tragic happening has seen 70 printings in Japan since 1951. It is broadcast annually every August on Japanese radio and TV. CCBC Category: History, People And Places. 1988, Houghton Mifflin, 32 pages., $13.95. Age 12-adult.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
A zookeeper narrates the story of how there came to be graves at the zoo: when Tokyo was showered with bombs during the bleak days of World War II, the authorities feared that if the zoo were destroyed, the animals might accidentally be freed and wreak havoc on the city. So they decided that all the zoo animals would be killed. But the elephants wouldn't eat the poisonous food they were offered, and the needles in the syringes containing poison broke before they could penetrate the elephants' rough skin. So the elephants were starved to death, a slow and painful process watched by the zookeepers who loved them. An upsetting story for children or adults, this powerfully conveys the deadly side effects of war. Lewin's watercolors show the massive gray bodies in their state of decline; it is impossible not to appreciate the heartbreak of the animals' plight. But this is a book that provokes questions about the nature of death and dying (children may read into this that some may be killed for the greater good of all), and so should be chosen with care. All ages. (August)


Elephants--Japan Juvenile literature.
Animal welfare--Japan Juvenile literature.
Zoo keepers--Japan Juvenile literature.
World War, 1939-1945--Japan Juvenile literature.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) QL737.P98 T7813 1988
88006508 - 0395465559
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