Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Pennies for Elephants

Pennies for Elephants

Lita Judge
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Hyperion Book, 2009   ISBN: 978-1423113904

Mr. and Mrs. Orford are retiring from show business, and they are going to sell their “wonderful troop of educated elephants.” The city of Boston would like to purchase the elephants for the city zoo, but they don’t have the funds, so they are appealing to the children of Boston to raise the $6000 needed to buy the animals.

While they are walking past a street corner, Henry and his sister Dorothy hear a newspaper boy calling out, “Pennies for elephants! Pennies for elephants!” as he waves newspapers in the faces of people walking by. As soon as Henry hears about the elephants, he rushes home, dragging his sister with him. Quickly the children empty their piggy banks and they take their money to the office of the Boston Post newspaper, where the elephant fund money is being collected.

When the children of Boston, including Henry and Dorothy, hear that London Zoo and a circus have offered to buy the elephants, they step up their campaign. Henry and Dorothy host an elephant fund party and soon local businesses got into the act, pressured by their youngest patrons to do so! Will they manage to raise the money in time?

In 1914, Boston’s children really did raise $6000 to purchase some elephants for their zoo. This story is based on that wonderful event. With lovely illustrations that include excerpts from the Boston Post newspaper, the author of this wonderful picture book tells a story that shows to great effect that children really can do amazing things when they put their minds to it.