Monday, May 14, 2018

What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein

What Elephants Know 
Eric Dinerstein 

About the Book

In the borderlands between Nepal and India during the 1970s, an orphan boy overcomes adversity to save his village and become a great elephant driver.

Abandoned in the jungle as a baby and cared for by wild dogs known as dholes, Nandu is rescued by an elephant, Devi Kali, and the head of a royal elephant stable, Subba-sahib. That he thinks of these two as his parents is clear from the very outset of this first-person narrative: “My mother is an elephant and my father is an old man with one arm.” But one day Nandu spoils the king’s attempt to shoot a tiger, perhaps influencing the king’s decision to close the elephant stable. Subba-sahib sends Nandu to boarding school, where he is again an outsider and bullied but where he also meets a white teacher. Together they collect bird specimens for the Smithsonian. Nandu and his friend Rita devise a plan to save the village by converting the stable to an elephant breeding station.

Read a sample of the book.

[PDF]Discussion Guide

Vocabulary Activity

Writing about a new vocabulary word can help you understand the word.
  1. Choose at least 10 words you do not know as you read this book.
  2. Write the sentence from the novel that contains the vocabulary word and page number.
  3. What is the definition of the word?
  4. Can you use it in your own sentence?
  5. Explain how the word connects to the story. 
Make a MCBA vocabulary book of other words in this book and all the 
other MCBA books you read.

About the Author

Eric Dinerstein, PhD, attended Northwestern University and Western Washington University and did his graduate studies in wildlife science at the University of Washington. He is director of biodiversity and wildlife solutions at RESOLVE, where he devotes his time to the conservation of wild populations of elephants, rhinos, tigers, and other endangered species. He was previously chief scientist and vice president for conservation science at the World Wildlife Fund for nearly twenty-five years. Dinerstein began researching tigers in Nepal in 1975 as a Peace Corps volunteer. He later continued fieldwork in the region, studying rhinos and tigers for the Smithsonian Institution. Dinerstein's nonfiction works include: The Return of the Unicorns: The Natural History and Conservation of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros; Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations; and The Kingdom of Rarities.