November 5, 2017


If you haven't already seen How to Be an Elephant: Growing Up in the African Wild by Katherine Roy, then prepare to be filled with awe.

How to Be an Elephant takes a close look at family dynamics in a typical African herd. We begin –– and I literally mean begin, from the title page –– with a baby elephant still in the womb, on the verge of being born. The book carries us through the life of a typical elephant as it learns to walk, play, and find its place in the herd. Interspersed throughout are diagrams and blocks of text that shed a light on information like how elephants keep cool, build themselves homes, and more.

Oh my gosh, the design of this book. It's breath-taking. The endpapers are magnificent, with night and day scenes of the herd moving along their path. And I love that the elephants on the back endpapers are walking back into the book. It represents exactly how I feel every time I finish the book: I want to dive right back in. The illustrations are watercolor, and Roy's use of color and light in each spread is masterful. Undoubtedly one of the best nonfiction books of the year.

How to Be an Elephant published from David Macaulay Studio in September, and listen to Matthew Winner's podcast interview with Katherine Roy here.

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