Centered on the role of the “Elephant Matriarch,” She Leads explores many of the facets of leadership involved in heading a group of elephants—the way they nurture, protect, teach and provide. In larger blue text throughout Smalls captures the essence of elephant leadership in a way that leaves the reader feeling inspired and uplifted (particularly if they are a young girl!). Significantly smaller text on each page provides more in-depth facts related to the blue text and illustration—the differentiation makes it easy to expand or shorten the reading of the story to either include or exclude the extra information without loss of meaning. By following the elephant matriarch through to her death, and the subsequent naming of a new queen, Smalls reminds young girls that their inheritance is to lead next. Shimokawara’s illustrations are life-like and emphasize the elephants’ wild beauty with their thick, wrinkly skin and playful nature. The tableau featuring the matriarch’s death is particularly poignant, with tears streaming from the eyes of what looks to be her successor.
June Smalls has been making up stories since she only had pets and stuffed animals to share them with. With her first poem published in first grade, June got the writing bug and never quit. June is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a lover of literature. She resides in Northern Virginia with her hubby, The Kid, and an ever-growing assortment of animals. When not writing, June is researching, visiting zoos or aquariums, reading, or trying to convince her hubby they have room for just one more pet.
Yumi Shimokawara was born in Tokyo. She took an illustration correspondence course with Kodansha Famous Schools in 2001 and later learned wildlife drawing at a KFS school. In 2013, she won the school’s 7th KFS Picture Book Grand Prix. She made her debut into writing and illustrating with Hoshi o sagashi ni (Star Hunting). She has since published Potsu potsu potsu daijobu? (Plip-plop Plip-plop, Are You All Right?) and Osuwari dozo (Have a Seat). She loves animals and currently lives with a white java sparrow in Chiba, Japan.
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