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What Elephants Know

Last updated Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Author: Eric Dinerstein
Date of Publication: 2016
ISBN: 1484728548
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2018

Synopsis: Abandoned in the jungle of the Nepalese Borderlands, two-year-old Nandu is found living under the protective watch of a pack of wild dogs. From his mysterious beginnings, fate delivers him to the King's elephant stable, where he is raised by unlikely parents-the wise head of the stable, Subba-sahib, and Devi Kali, a fierce and affectionate female elephant.

When the king's government threatens to close the stable, Nandu, now twelve, searches for a way to save his family and community. A risky plan could be the answer. But to succeed, they'll need a great tusker. The future is in Nandu's hands as he sets out to find a bull elephant and bring him back to the Borderlands.

Note to readers:
•  The front and back inside covers have map drawings of the setting of the story to show to the kids.
•  There is a glossary for the italicized words in the story beginning on page 271.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What do you know about elephants?
•  Have you ever seen an elephant in real life?
•  Do you think you would be brave enough to ride one?
•  Do you know where Nepal is?


•  Tethering - to use a rope or chain to tie an animal to something to keep it in a particular area
•  Monsoon - the rainy season that occurs in southern Asia in the summer
•  Wary - not having or showing complete trust in someone or something that could be dangerous or cause trouble
•  Fowl - a bird
•  Antics - funny or playful actions or behavior
•  Interjected - to interrupt what someone else is saying
•  Serenaded - to sing to someone

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What are some good luck symbols you've heard of?
•  What are some things elephants use their trunks for?
•  Do you think an animal can be a friend and watch out for us?
•  Would you ever like to visit a jungle?

Craft ideas:
•  Use a paper plate to make an elephant or elephant mask. See Pinterest for an example.
•  Make a tiger. Use a paper plate for the head, coloring it orange. Cut out ears, stripes, mouth, nose and eyes from construction paper and glue on the paper plate. See Pinterest for an example.
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!