Volume 18 Number 4
Using as a basis the life of Jumbo, "the world's largest elephant," who died in St. Catharine's, Ontario, in 1885, Barbara Smucker has written a lively and appealing story. The hero, Tod Tolliver, is a fictional creation, but other characters and the plot outline follow historical facts.Jumbo's story is told from the time of his capture in Africa, through his unhappy days in Paris and his success as a major attraction in the London zoo. Jumbo proved too large and too popular for the zoo to handle, so he was eventually sold to P.T. Barnum, who shipped him to America and made him a star attraction in his circus. As happened in real life, Jumbo's devoted keeper, Matthew Scott, went to America, too, because it proved impossible to manage the massive beast without him. In Smucker's book, Tod Tolliver, a young zoo employee, stowed away aboard the ship with Jumbo. Upon arrival, he was hired to work with the elephants in the circus. Just as in England, Jumbo was extremely popular and appeared to enjoy the attention and excitement of circus life. Young Tod was able to start training as a clown, his lifelong ambition, in addition to caring for Jumbo. Only the dreadful railroad accident in St. Thomas, Ontario, put an end to this happy existence. The loss of Jumbo is muted, as Tod carries on his life in the circus. A gentle, satisfying book.
Adele M. Fasick, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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