222. An Elephant in the Backyard by Richard Sobol

An Elephant in the Backyard by Richard Sobol (Canada) - (US)

Pages: unnumbered (approx. 32)
Ages: 5+
Finished: Sept. 28, 2011
First Published: 2004
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Genre: children, non-fiction, elephants, Thailand
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:
In most neighborhoods, elephants are way too big to keep in the backyard.
Acquired: Borrowed a copy through Inter-Library Loan.

Reason for Reading: I am reading the author's entire backlist with my son and discussing the life of a photographer/photojournalist as a career option while doing so.

This was my son's and my favourite book by Richard Sobol to date and we only have two more on his backlist to go.  A wonderful story of a village in Thailand called Tha Klang, which has domesticated elephants roaming freely.  It is not unusual for each family to have their own elephant.  While elephants are plenty in Thailand, Tha Klang is unique in its domesticated elephants.  The book follows one family, specifically the brother and sister, and their elephant Wan Pen, along with her trainer Choy.  She is 4 years old now but when she is older she will help earn money for the family by giving visitors rides on her back and performing tricks.  This will help the family earn money for food and pay for school for the children.

A delightful story where we learn so much about the life of a domesticated elephant who is loved as dearly as a Westerner's pet cat or dog.  We watch as Wan Pen is trained, plays with her family, plays soccer with the neighborhood children and loves to be hosed down.  While it is a simple story, there is an amazing amount of information about elephants imparted through the telling of the story.  The photographs are to-die-for, absolutely wonderful, cute, funny and majestic.  My son was trying to explain to me why this book was different from all the other Sobol books and one of the reasons he enjoyed it so much, when I finally realized he was telling me in his own words that this book was written in the third person, while Sobol's other books are usually written in the first person!  Wonderful book!  While copies are still available at amazon.ca, the book otherwise appears out of print.  Definitely time for a reprint, I'd say.  Doesn't look as if it's been released in paperback so that would be the perfect way to go.


  1. This is one of my favorite, favorite books! I just love it :)

  2. Isn't it just wonderful?! Don't let the elephant play goalie LOL!


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