Illustrator: Jon Cannell
Category: Children's
Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Who would have thought that the emperor Charlemagne would make friends with an albino elephant, a gift from the caliph of Baghdad? Told from the fictionalized point of view of a monk who set down the actual story in 883 884 CE, the book follows the elephant's journey through Egypt, across the Mediterranean to Italy and across the Alps to Germany. When the elephant finally reaches his destination, Charlemagne is so delighted with his exotic new pet that he introduces him to his many children and bathes with him in the hot springs near his palace. When the elephant dies of old age, the emperor is heartbroken. Jon Cannell invigorates his charming mixed-media artwork with artifacts, paintings, and sculpture from earlier centuries. An Author's Note about the origins of the story and the remarkable water clock carried by the elephant is included.

Audience: Ages 6 and up
PageNumber: 40
ISBN: 978-0761461111
Price: $17.99
CopyrightDate: 2012


Did you know that Charlemagne would bathe with his white elephant, a gift from the caliph of Baghdad? No? Well, let the monk tell the tale. Charlemagne, emperor of most of the Western world, was curious about Harun Al-Rashid, an impressive Muslim leader. So he embarked upon a journey that took him from Germany to Italy, across the Mediterranean, through Cairo, and finally into Baghdad. There the travelers were stunned by the sophisticated society that they found. Most intriguing? The Muslim world’s knowledge about science, medicine, and engineering, far exceeding what Europeans knew. At Charlegmagne’s departure, Harun gave him gifts; the most precious was Abu, a white elephant. As they journeyed home, the elephant and the ruler forged a lifelong friendship. A primitive yet joyful art style brings the story close to children, but photographic artifacts from Charlemagne’s reign are interwoven, giving the visual element depth. Though the relationship between Abu and Charlemagne is tender, perhaps the best part of this shows the easy, generous friendship between two powerful, very different leaders.