Synopses & Reviews
It’s unbelievable but true! Born on the same day in the same small, German circus town, young Bram and his elephant, Modoc, had a lifelong friendship that spanned over eight decades. But it was never easy. From the breakup of the circus to the shipwreck in the Indian Ocean that nearly cost them their lives, the bond between the boy and the elephant survived the most unimaginable trials. This true story of their adventures together, and eventual rise to circus stardom in the Ringling Brothers Circus, will be a treasure for animal lovers everywhere.
"Based on the actual life-long friendship between Bram Gunterstein and elephant Modoc, this riveting picture book chronicles the pair's incredible story. In the opening scene, Josep, an elephant trainer, cradles his baby, Bram, in the shadow of a towering elephant and her newborn, Modoc. 'I can only hope these two will always be together,' Josep says, in a prophetic statement. Muted hues of brown and gray, offset by sparing use of circus red, reflect the tale's sober tone. Separation remains a constant threat, personified by circus owner Mr. North, who becomes Modoc's cruel owner and refuses to take Bram with him. Lewin's (Peppe the Lamplighter) illustrations make the strong connection between elephant and boy nearly palpable: one full-bleed spread depicts a close-up view of Modoc's eye, reflecting Bram's face; another shows Bram and Modoc on a ship's deck, trunk and arm intertwined, gazing at the Statue of Liberty. Helfer compresses a decades-long story by highlighting such dramatic events as a shipwreck, a war and a fire; a couple of scenes, such as Mr. North's discovery of the pair in India, would feel like a Hollywood movie, except that all of the events actually occurred. Helfer's (The Island of Dr. Moreau) impeccable pacing keeps the suspense high as he builds the emotional connection between his two heroes one human, one animal. An author bio reveals Helfer's own role in this often wrenching, ultimately heartwarming true story. Ages 6-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"An astonishing account....Stunning." —Booklist, starred review
Young Bram and his elephant, Modoc, had a lifelong friendship spanning eight decades. The true story of their adventures together and eventual rise to circus stardom is depicted in this beautiful book. Full color.
About the Author
Ted Lewin grew up in an old frame house in Buffalo, New York, with two brothers, one sister, two parents, a lion, an iguana, a chimpanzee, and an assortment of more conventional pets. The lion was given to his older brother, Don, while he was traveling as a professional wrestler, and he shipped it home. The family kept Sheba in the basement fruit cellar until Don returned and their mother convinced him to give it to the Buffalo zoo.
Ted always knew he wanted to be an illustrator. As a child he copied the work of illustrators and painters he admired, including N.C. Wyeth, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Velázquez, and Goya. When it came time to go to art school (Pratt), he needed to earn money to finance his education. So, following in his brother’s footsteps, he took a summer job as a wrestler—the beginning of a 15-year part-time career that eventually inspired his autobiographical book I Was a Teenage Professional Wrestler.
Ted’s career as an artist began with illustrations for adventure magazines, and it’s only over the last several years that he has devoted his time to writing and illustrating children’s books. “I’m having more fun doing this than anything I’ve ever done before,” he says. He is an avid traveler, and many of his books are inspired by trips to such places as the Amazon River, the Sahara Desert, Botswana, Egypt, Lapland, and India.
Ted and his wife Betsy live in Brooklyn, New York, where they share their home with two cats, Slick and Chopper.