Reviewed by Eileen Johnson for Readers' Favorite
In Wanda and Winky: The True Story of the Detroit Zoo's Last Two Elephants, Linda K. McLean has clearly captured the plight of elephants held in captivity through a compelling use of poetry and prose. The words tell the real- life story of two elephants who were captured in Asia and Africa and brought together in the Detroit Zoo after spending time in circuses and zoos. McLean describes how a gentle zookeeper in Detroit recognized that a zoo in a cold climate was not a good habitat for an elephant. What happens next in the story provides the happy ending for a story that might have ended very differently. The book is richly illustrated by Susan VanDeventer Warner. Warner's simple and colorful paintings and drawings add appealing substance to the story by showing the playfulness and the relationships of the elephants.
Wanda and Winky by Linda K. McLean uses the technique of alternating poetry and prose. This technique is very effective in telling the story of Wanda and Winky, while also providing facts about elephants through "Elephant Talk." One of the best parts of the book is the list of sources included at the end of the book. These sources allow the reader to get additional information about elephants and efforts at preserving them. How to Love an Elephant provides school age children with actions they can take to help preserve these gentle giants. Although the book is targeted at children from 5 to 12 years old, adults will love the book and will almost certainly learn more about elephants as they read along with their children. Wanda and Winky: The True Story of the Detroit Zoo's Last Two Elephants by Linda K. McLean is highly recommended for all ages!