One step was all it took. One step changed Mali’s life forever. Her bond with Luk though is strong and he is determined she will get better…one step at a time.
Title: One Step at a Time
Author: Jane Jolly
Illustrator: Sally Heinrich
ISBN: 9780987380951 Language: English
Classification: Fiction (with non-fiction inspiration)
Themes: war, consequences, friendship, disabilities
What’s it about?
This story is about a baby elephant named Mali and a boy called Luk. One day while they are in a forest Mali spots some tasty bananas but as she reaches for them she steps on a landmine and loses her leg. Luk is there every day to help Mali get better and take one step at a time.
The difference in font size for dialogue was really good for younger readers. Illustrations are divine – they don’t fill up the whole page and it is to good effect. The twist at the end of the book.
Nothing comes to mind.
The cover didn’t really draw me in but this book is definitely worth considering for your classroom. I have tagged this as grade 2-6 depending on what you want your class to get out of the story.
I am guessing this story was inspired by stories in the news from the last couple of years about elephants who lost limbs due to landmines and received prosthetics instead. The page where the elephant stepped on the landmine is done particularly well – no blood and gore.
The friendship between the two characters is clear by how well Luk tends to her but I think the twist at the end is what makes this a truly useful book. On the very last page it is revealed that Luk has also lost part of his leg to a landmine.
This is a great book for looking at the ethics of landmine usage during wars with particular focus on the long term consequences. If you have older students you could use this as a debate topic. Another idea would be to have your students research about landmine injuries in different countries and graph the results. A discussion could then be had about what should be done at this point to minimise the risk to others.
If you have younger students then focus on the friendship between Mali and Luk and how they both overcome the partial loss of a limb to continue with their life. A really good point if you are looking for a book to use at the start of the year to focus on perseverance and friendship.
On a side note, my 23 month old son absolutely adored looking at the pictures in this book. He sat quietly flipping through the book for a good 15 mins (which is an unusually long period of time for him to be focused on one book). Added March 2018: This is still one of my children’s favourite books at age 3.5 – they even retell parts of the story with some understanding of the ‘Boom’ and Mali’s new leg.