The World’s Loneliest Elephant, written by Ralph Fletcher and illustrated by Naoko Stoop, is a beautiful narrative nonfiction story. The book spans the life of a bull elephant named Kaavan, who came to live a rather sad life at the Marghazar Zoo in Pakistan. Through the persistent work of Egyptian veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil, and many caring people around the world, Kaavan made a remarkable journey from Pakistan to the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia.
This story is perfect for exploring the genre of narrative nonfiction. Readers of all ages would be engaged with the story of Kaavan and those who helped him find his way to a better life. There is also so much to learn about elephants, how people can make change, and about the world.
I could imagine using this book to inspire students during a persuasive writing unit, studying different ways people can use their words to make change. Because the story spans thirty-five years, I could imagine creating a timeline of Kaavan’s life and also tracking his journey on a map. There are so many aspects of this true story that would truly engage readers and also provide opportunities to model and explore many ways readers can really understand their reading.