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Elephant Dance

Last updated Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Author: Theresa Heine
Illustrator: Sheila Moxley
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 1841489174
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jan. 2011

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: When Grandfather arrives from India, Ravi asks him about life there. The man describes a sun that is like "a ferocious tiger" in the sky; snow-covered mountains that look like "giant ice cream"; and elephants that wear "silk howdahs, blue as the royal peacock," during the feast of Divaali. At the end of the day, Ravi creates an elephant dance on his flute and falls asleep to dream about an elephant doing "a silent dance." Done in acrylic paint, the folk-style illustrations capture the bright colors of India, as Ravi sees them in his mind's eye. The scenes alternate between Grandfather's depictions of his homeland and the boy's life in an unidentified country, where his family continues to embrace their traditions. Endnotes provide details about culture, animals, and food. The book is engaging as a read-aloud about an intergenerational relationship or as an introduction to the country. The sheet music for Ravi's song is also included. The narrative's question-and-answer format occasionally leads to choppy transitions, but the book's splashy illustrations and poetic language outweigh this flaw.

Note to readers:
•  Hear and see this book read aloud on YouTube

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  BEFORE (front cover):
•  1) Where is India?
•  2) Have you ever seen an elephant dance?
•  3) What would it look like?
•  4) What is the boy playing? (on cover)
•  (Note: Glossary of animals, food, and spices of India)

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  1) Has anyone from another country ever visited you?
•  2) Have you ever been to another country?
•  1) Diwali - festival of lights
•  2) Sari - women's dress clothing
•  3) lentils - type of food (uncooked looks like a seed)
•  4) Kingfisher - type of bird
•  5) howdah - carriage on top of elephant

Craft ideas:
•  1) Fold strips of paper accordion style, then cut in shape of an elephant with tail and trunk. (like paper dolls)
•  2) Make elephant masks and/or ears
•  3) (http://www.daniellesplace.com/html/ElephantCrafts.html) - tired elephant paper plate craft, egg carton elephant craft, folded paper elephant craft, or elephant bubble bath

Special activities:
•  Dance in a line like elephants (hold hands and turn)

*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!