This week my mentor text is Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya.
I absolutely love this text, but be forewarned that it is an intense book and may not be suitable for all classrooms. You would have to make that judgment call.
This is a true story that takes place at a zoo in Japan during WWII. Due to all the bombs being dropped in Tokyo during the war, zookeepers were very concerned that the animals could escape and run wild through the city, creating even more danger. Therefore, it was commanded that all of the animals be poisoned to death. Unfortunately, because the elephants had tough skin and were too smart to eat the poisoned food, they were starved to death. The zookeeper loved the elephants so much and tried to stall in hopes of saving the elephants. This story is guaranteed to move you with emotion and compassion.
What I love about this story, is that it is historical fiction. It is important to introduce students to a variety of genres. Second, I love how it moves students. It definitely inspires lots of discussion about values and the message. Further the vocabulary lends itself well to practice using the context to understand meaning. Since we are always trying to incorporate good comprehension strategies, students can easily apply the questioning strategy, summarizing strategy, and infer/predict. This book definitely should be considered.