Welcome to India, a land of exotic sights, sounds, smells and the amazing elephant. Ted and Betsy Lewin journey to southern India to see the elephants. They find a place of banyan trees, rice paddies and the magnificence of elephants. They have the privilege of meeting a "mighty tusker" named Drona, who has been chosen as the Ambari Elephant. This elephant "is the lead Royal elephant of the maharaja of Mysore's annual parade through the city on the last day of Dasara" as part of a Hindu ceremony and the triumph of good over evil. The Lewins can feel the power of Drona's aura and they feel his strength and his presence. They will have to return the following year to see Drona "carry the gold" for this powerful commemoration. But life has its twists and turns and when the Lewins return the following year, they learn of the passing of Drona and then meet the new Ambari, Balarama.
You can feel the connections between the people and the elephants as you read the story and watch the brilliance of the illustrations. When the elephants are playful, Betsy Lewin's comic hand lets you in on the joke and when the dignity and soul of the elephants is foremost, it's Ted Lewin who delivers the ethos and the poignancy. Will Balarama be equal to the task?
Just as you get to know a person bit by bit, you get to know and root for Balarama. But there's so much more to this adventure. Do you know what a mahout is? Can you imagine in your own mind what it's like to have the connections with the elephants as part of your culture? We get a window with two very trained eyes revealing the important things to us. What a gift Ted and Betsy Lewin are to us all.
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com