In 1914, the kids of Boston. MA, raised enough money to bring three elephants to the zoo.
Lita Judge’s, Pennies for Elephants , 2009, opens with a paperboy shouting “Pennies for elephants!” Henry and Dorothy, our two kid guides stop in their tracks to read the Boston Post:
THREE TRAINED PACHYDERMS FOR SALE!
Mr. and Mrs. William Orford, noted animal trainers, are retiring from show business. City can’t afford to buy the elephants for the zoo, but Orfords agree to give the children of Boston two months to college $6,000. Just imagine, kids — you could ride elephants at the zoo someday! (Judge, pg. 4)
The story tracks the entrepreneurial antics of Henry and Dorothy to raise money to bring the elephants Mollie, Tony, and Waddy to their zoo. Intermittently, the narrative zooms out using a newspaper convention to continually insert a contextual voice and speak to the whole northeast’s efforts to support this campaign.
Here’s Lita Judge’s reflections from the final two pages of the book.
AUTHOR BASES STORY ON TRUE EVENTS
What unfolds is a story based on the 1914 newspaper headlines about the children of Boston raising more than $6000 to buy the first elephants fr the Franklin Park Zoo. The zoo had twenty bears, three elk, a deer, and a monkey, but no elephants. During a time when ethnicity and social class divided people, this campaign to support the elephant fund, by kids and for kids, prodded a cause which united the city. The (Boston) Post’s newly appointed “elephant editor” ran strifes every day from March to June. Every donation, from one cent up, was acknowledged in a daily list of contributors. The author was intrigued by how the elephant fund campaign inspired children to work together for a community cause.
(Lita Judge, final spread, not numbered)
There’s an arrangement of attributes that makes the Pennies proposition particularly inspirational.
Definition of success: A project earning the title ”Gift from the Children of New England”