Maggie: Alaska's Last Elephant

Kirkus Reviews - December 2017

The text is clear and concise, intersplicing general facts about elephants, behavioral conditioning, and PAWS with Maggie’s story. Further information is offered at the tale’s end, including a Q-and-A with Maggie’s keeper at PAWS that appropriately complicates the elephant’s “happiness.”

A solid if not stellar addition to a growing picture-book genre.

Science Books & Films - October 2018

The text is large and has full sentences that are not overly complex but will be a good challenge for early readers, likely an advanced first grader through fourth grades.

Puget Sound Council for the Review of Children's Books and Media - March 2018

Once there were two elephants who lived in the Alaska Zoo--Annabelle, and Maggie. When Annabelle died, Maggie was left alone. Elephants are herd animals and she ended up adopting a tire as her friend. This sad story, and Maggie's failing health, might have ended poorly. However, it was decided to move her to a sanctuary in California where other animals, including elephants, were kept. Moving Maggie, and integrating her into the herd, were difficult, but the success of the move, and her acceptance into a new family are heart-warming. This is a true story, well-told and nicely illustrated. Combine it with the story of Ivan for discussions on how we care for captive animals, and how we can do better.

Midwest Book Review - June 2018

"Maggie, Alaska's Last Elephant" by author Jennifer Keats Curtis and illustrator Phyllis Saroff is the true and heartwarming story of how zoos ensure the best for the animals in their care even if the best is not at their zoo. Of special note for children ages 8 to 12 is the inclusion of a 4-page 'For Creative Minds' section in the back of the book and access to an online 30-page cross-curricular 'Teaching Activity Guide'.

Kids' Book Buzz - July 2018

I really like reading books based on true stories. They help me learn about things that have actually happened. I really liked learning about Maggie and her move to California. In this book, I especially love the section at the end that teaches you more about elephants and zoos, and there’s even a Q&A with Maggie’s keeper, Michelle Harvey. I would recommend Maggie: Alaska’s Last Elephant to kids who like learning about animals and to students who may be doing a project on elephants. It makes me happy to know that Maggie is now living a life with other elephants.- Reviewed by Jewel (Age 10)

AudioFile - May 2019

When Maggie becomes the lone elephant at Alaska Zoo, her keepers try creative solutions to ease her loneliness until they find her a more natural home with a new elephant family. German’s midwestern accent has a friendly tone that perfectly matches the story, interspersing facts about elephant behavior as zookeepers try to console the languishing Maggie.

Children's and Young Adult Review Board of Missouri

Annabelle was an Asian Elephant, and Maggie an African elephant. They were happy for years, until Annabelle died. Without Annabelle, Maggie felt lost. She befriended a tire, which she slept and played with. With no other elephant, Maggie had only the tire. Her keepers bought her a treadmill for $150,000. She didn't like it. Then she fell down and couldn't get up! She was sent to live with other elephants in California, who she eventually got used to. The illustrations are realistic and beautifully done in colors toward the darker end of the spectrum. Enjoy this book with ypur child and learn a heartbreaking and heartwarming story.
-Submitted by: Logan H.

Mom Read It - December 2017

Maggie’s story is heartbreaking; the realistic artwork beautifully and achingly conveys emotion, from Maggie’s joy with Annabelle to her despondence, clinging to her tire, alone in her pen. This is a strong story about making good decisions and making the decisions that benefit others; putting others first, and living with empathy. The Creative Minds section includes a Q&A with elephant keeper Michelle Harvey, and touches on Maggie’s care at PAWS; the PAWS website has several videos available, including Maggie’s arrival from Alaska in 2000, and Maggie joining the herd of elephants.

Goodreads Review - February 2018

This would be a great addition to a classroom science library since readers will surely finish the book filled with compassion for lonely Maggie as well as an appreciation for the social nature of elephants and respect and gratitude to the individuals who made her move to a warmer climate possible.

Our Everyday Harvest - March 2018

This is such an emotional story with a few ups and downs, but ultimately a very happy ending for Maggie. We loved learning some additional facts about elephants that we didn't already know. It was also comforting to read how the zookeepers at the Alaska Zoo came together to find a solution that benefitted Maggie, even if it meant losing her to another location...

Reviewed by Amy Siracusano, Literacy Integration Learning Specialist, Maryland

This is a beautiful informational story filled with rich, descriptive language that could be used not only in science to learn information about elephants and zoos, but could also be used during writing workshop too. The text is filled with rich sentences that use beautiful sensory details. A great model for young student writers. The story of Maggie, the elephant, tugs on your heart strings and provides perspective to students when thinking about how society and nature interest and the impact they have on one another. Readers love a happy ending, and Maggie’s is certainly happy…but Jennifer leaves the reader with not only a happy ending, but information about elephants and zoos where elephants are kept. A great text to be used for so many instructional lessons. Maggie Alaska’s Last Elephant is a must read.

Heck of a Bunch - March 2018

Although this book has colored illustrations, the story itself is based on true events. It's a story that tells the process in which Maggie was transported from the zoo to her new home. There's details on how Maggie is introduced to the new place and the new elephants. Readers will also learn what elephants like and how they behave.

Kids Book A Day - April 2018

Kids will enjoy learning the details of Maggie’s life, both in Alaska and California, as well as the logistics for transporting a four-ton elephant from one place to the other.

Outnumbered 3 to 1 - April 2018

This is one of those books that can bring out heartfelt discussion between parents and children. Zoos work to ensure the best for the animals in their care—even if the best is not at their zoo. A sad story to start but Maggie eventually gets her happy ending.

Archimedes Notebook - January 2019

Author Jennifer Keats Curtis is a wonderful storyteller. She weaves in a lot of elephant behavior as she introduces Maggie and her story. She shows zookeepers creating enrichment opportunities for Maggie, in an effort to keep her brain and senses engaged throughout her day. And when they realize it's time for her to go, they have another problem to solve: how do you move an 8,000-pound animal thousands of miles?

I also like the back matter, which includes more information about elephant herds, how zoos keep elephants healthy and happy, and a fun Q&A with a keeper.

M. G. Paregian - March 2019

"Once, elephants lived in Alaska–two of them. Annabelle, and Asian elephant, came first. She lived at the Alaska Zoo. Since elephants are herd animals and need friends the keepers brought in baby Maggie, an African elephant, to keep Annabelle company."This starts the exciting story of these two elephants. Children will learn that elephants tend to stay together, for their mutual protection and trunks come in handy to hold on to the mothers' trunk.

Elephants, like other animals, do get sick. And one day, Maggie got sick. she would lay down, but could not get up. Enter the firefighters, who came to her rescue. Using a truck with a big motor, they were able to raise Maggie. And so thier adventure continued. This is a delightful story and the children will thoroughly enjoy it.