When Anju Loved Being an Elephant

Growing up on the Indonesian island of Sumatra with its cooling lakes and refreshing mud holes, Anju loved being an elephant. Loving cared for and proetected by her mother and herd family, there was nowhere else Anju would rather be. That all changed when she was stolen and sold to an American circus. Anju spends decades traveling across the country, entertaining crowds. After the circus, she's then moved to a small zoo for 23 years, their lone elephant. Anju no longer loved being an elephant. She was old and tired. Will Anju ever love being an elephant again?

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Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level
Dewey E
ATOS Reading Level 5.0
Guided Reading Level
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585365333), PDF (9781410308498), Hosted ebook (9781627535335)
Copyright 2012, 2014
Number of Pages 32
Dimensions 11 x 9
Graphics Full-color illustrations
  • Teachers' Choice Awards for Children's Books, Winner, 2013
  • Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Elementary Book Award List, Short-listed, 2012
  • Skipping Stones Honor Awards List, Short-listed, 2012

A Review of "When Anju Loved Being an Elephant" in Catholic Library World

When Anju was five years old, she was captured and separated from her elephant herd in Sumatra. Anju spent thirty-five years performing in American circuses. When she was too old for the circus, Anju was sold to a small zoo where she was the only elephant. Anju finds that she is not happy being an elephant. After fifteen years on her own, Anju is sent to a new home. Anju is surprised to find that she is no longer confined to a small space and that she no longer wears chains. Not only is Anju roaming free outside, she has joined an elephant herd. She is once again happy to be an elephant. This is a fictional story, but there are many elephants in America who have experienced this life. The reader will appreciate the loneliness Anju feels. The text is simple but captures the pathos of elephants that are forced to live solitary lives. John Butler’s illustrations are stunning. They are detailed and capture the emotions Anju experiences through her life. The book ends with some elephant facts and suggestions on how to help elephants. Teachers can include this book when studying animals. This is a book that will alert young readers to the fact that animals, such as elephants, have feelings and should be treated with respect. Ages 5-10.

When Anju Loved Being an Elephant - Teaching Guide

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Author: Wendy Henrichs

Wendy Henrichs's love of animals expresses itself in the stories she writes for children. In researching elephants, she was struck by their deep family connections and emotional needs so closely resembling those of humans.

Illustrator: John Butler

John Butler has illustrated more than 40 children's books, including "A Mama for Owen", the true story of the African baby hippo that, separated from his mother during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, bonded with a giant tortoise. John lives in England.

Full-color illustrations