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Cover of Every Home Needs an Elephant

Every Home Needs an Elephant

By Jane Heinrichs. Orca Book Publishers, 2021. 160 pages, $10.95.
Jane Ranson

Every Home Needs an Elephant is a wonderful story about friendship that also explores the different relationships between friends, family and pets.

On a hot summer day, nine-year-old Sarah is sitting in her apartment feeling lonely and bored. She feels like her mother, who is CEO at the Royal Bank and always busy with work, doesn’t really care. After noticing an advertisement in the newspaper for half-price pets, Sarah decides that getting a pet would be the perfect solution to her problems. She goes with her dad to a huge department store called Harrolds and choses an elephant.

Sarah adores her new pet and tries hard to protect him and find room for him in her apartment. She quickly finds out that the elephant, who she calls Mr. Smith, loves arranging flowers and keeping her company. He is gentle and sensitive and loves Sarah, though he does have problems fitting through doorways and tends to knock things over.

With the help of Mr. Smith, Sarah meets her new neighbour, who ends up becoming her first real friend. Sarah’s mother also starts spending more time with her because of Mr. Smith. There are misunderstandings, humour and adventures throughout the book. Many amazing things happen in Sarah’s life because of Mr. Smith.

Every Home Needs an Elephant is perfect for social-emotional learning with its themes of empathy, compassion, listening, and how to express yourself so that people will hear and listen to you. It teaches the reader a lot about establishing and keeping supportive relationships in their life. It is also a great story to support discussions about narrative perspective and voice. While Sarah speaks in the first person, sections of the book are written in the third-person voice of Mr. Smith. The soft black-and-white illustrations that go along with the dialogue and show some of the action in a fun and digestible way are great for visual learners.

If you are thinking of purchasing a lighthearted book to use as a read-aloud or to introduce your students to chapter books, I would highly recommend Every Home Needs an Elephant.

Jane Ranson is a member of the Limestone Teacher Local.