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Balarama: A Royal Elephant (Adventures Around the World) Hardcover – September 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 910L (What's this?)
  • Series: Adventures Around the World
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600602657
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600602658
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,421,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3–6—The Lewins continue their accounts of their worldwide adventures, here with two voyages to southern India. On their first trip, they visited a camp of trained elephants and their handlers in the forest and learned of the royal elephants used for festivals. They met Drona, who was to lead the annual Dasara procession in Mysore in the fall, and they were so enraptured that they decided to return for the festival. Upon their arrival, they learned that Drona had died, and that a new elephant had been chosen to lead the procession. Ted Lewin's brilliant, realistic watercolors capture the sun-drenched pageantry of Mysore as well as the dusty, filtered light of the forest, while Betsy Lewin's lively cartoons aptly depict the action and personalities involved. The story has pathos and tension, and the Lewins' narration takes readers into the forest, to the grounds of the maharaja's pale palace, along the parade route, and eye-to-eye with the majestic animals. Facts about elephants and brief biographies of some of the royal elephants are a welcome addition, and a glossary—with pronunciation help—is provided. If the art doesn't grab chidren, the elephants surely will. Wonderful.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD END

From Booklist

With exciting text and lush, photo-realistic watercolors, the Lewins describe their close-up encounters with parade elephants in southern India in the late 1990s. After they meet a magnificent Royal Elephant, Drona, in the forest, they decide to return a year later to see the animal lead the city of Mysore’s parade. Unfortunately, Drona dies before the Lewins’ return, but they watch his successor, Balarama, lead the parade for the first time. Can he live up to his predecessor? The views of Balarama with his brightly painted head and shoulders are majestic, and so are the rest of the scenes of the big-city ceremony, featuring soldiers on horseback in front of the palace. Along with the glowing images of elephants in their shimmering silk drapes of purple and red, there are occasional, line-and-watercolor pictures of tourists in a nearby camp, watching a young, mischievous elephant chasing the local children. The combination of compelling travelogue and images is immediate and dramatic. Kids will also enjoy the extensive back matter, which includes elephant facts and a glossary. Grades 2-5. --Hazel Rochman

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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The picture at Drona's grave brought tears to my eyes!
Portianay
The rest of the story recounts Balarama's participation in the festival, vividly rendered in full color and exquisite detail.
Z Hayes
A section in the back discusses the differences between Asian and African elephants as well as the anatomy of elephants.
The Crafty Angel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ted and Betsy Lewin have spent four decades traveling throughout the world and fortunately for us have shared their observations and experiences with young readers. (Horse Song, Gorilla Walk, etc.) A Lewin book is always entertaining, exciting and educational. Such is surely the case with BALARAMA A ROYAL ELEPHANT.

Basing this story on events that took place in and around Mysore, India between 1997 and 1998 the Lewins introduce us to a centuries old festival, Dasara, which is led by the Royal Elephant. In this case, during their first visit, the Royal Elephant was Drona.

Intrigued by both Drona and the festival the Lewins decided to return for another year only to find that Drona had lost his life in an accident and a new lead elephant, Balarama, had been chosen. So, they witnessed Balarama's debut, the first time he carried the golden howdah, an intricately carved ceremonial carriage.

The authors also take readers to an elephant camp where during route they look for the first time into an elephant's eyes. As the elephant returns their gaze, "The long, thick broom of her lashes descends and rises in a slow, solemn blink." We are also treated to stunning drawings depicting the dressing of the elephants for the parade, and finally the parade itself as brilliant colors march under a blazing sun.

A photograph of the actual event is included, a Glossary and Pronunciation Guide, as well as a quote from The Times Of India noting that "for the first time in the Mysore Dasara procession" Balarama "gave a flawless performance."

- Gail Cooke
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Crafty Angel on November 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I received this book through [...] "First Reads" Giveaway. I love Children's/Young Adult books, and since the subject matter was elephants and India, I knew I would like this before it even got here.

Based on two trips made by authors Ted and Betsy Lewin, "Balarama" tells the story of an elephant by that name who will be leading the procession of a parade during Dasara, a holy festival in India. Accompanying the text are the dazzling paintings done by Betsy Lewin.

While this book is aimed at ages 9-12, I read it aloud to my 7 year old son, who enjoyed it as much as I did. We both learned several words in Hindi and Kannada (there is a glossary at the back) and marveled in the artwork. Truly, I think this is the most beautiful illustrated book I have ever seen--my son argued with me over one painting of the parade of elephants, insisting that it must be a photograph.

I can see the use of this book in the study of India, elephants, and relgious/cultural customs for a few age ranges. A section in the back discusses the differences between Asian and African elephants as well as the anatomy of elephants. One final section lists the lineage of the Royal Elephants who participated in Dasara.

I have to admit, based on story alone, I would have given it 4 stars. Betsy Lewin's glorious paintings earned an extra star on its own. I have looked up a few more titles of theirs and will be sure to purchase them.

I feel so fortunate that this book found its way to me; I hope other readers are as equally delighted.
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Format: Hardcover
Every year a special elephant is chosen to lead the parade in a big celebration in India. Balarama is the latest elephant to be so honored.

Both Ted and Betsy Lewin are children's picture book illustrators. In this book, both draw parts of the story. They have very different styles, with Ted painting big beautiful and realistic illustrations, and Betsy doing cartoon-like drawings.

A little: "Balarama moves majestically toward one of the palace gates, leading a mile-long procession. Band after band and unit after unit of guards and soldiers march smartly past the stage, following Balarama onto the packed streets of Mysore. Throngs of people push forward to see Balarama in his first ceremonial parade. We are bursting with pride. He is doing great."
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Format: Hardcover
Ted and Betsy Lewin are long-time travelers and Caldecott Honor Winners who have written many books on their travels around the globe. Some of their books are Horse Song: The Naadam of Mongolia, Gorilla Walk, Top to Bottom Down Under, and others. "Balarama" is a tale about the elephants of India. The book immediately appealed to me as I'm an elephant lover and grew up in Southeast Asia where these magnificent creatures are used for a variety of tasks. In this book, Ted and Betsy Lewin recount their adventures in Southern India where they visit an elephant camp. The illustrations of the elephants are so detailed as to render them almost life-like, and there are other interesting cultural details throughout the book, such as the traditional attires of the local Indian population, etc. Readers are introduced to Drona, the lead Royal Elephant who has received the highest honor an elephant can ever receive,the Ambari elephant. Its task is to lead the Maharaja of Mysore's annual parade through the city on the last day of Dasara, a royal and religious festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil. However, a tragedy results in Drona's death and a replacement elephant is found in Balarama. The rest of the story recounts Balarama's participation in the festival, vividly rendered in full color and exquisite detail. There are some factual details at the end of the book abut elephants, specifically the differences between Asian and African elephants.Read more ›
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