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Balarama: A Royal Elephant

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3.59  ·  Rating details ·  164 ratings  ·  49 reviews

Ted and Betsy Lewin_s illustrated travelogue of their trip to southern India, where they meet Balarama, the lead Royal Elephant who will make his debut in the traditional parade that concludes the celebration of Dasara in the city of Mysore.

Hardcover, 56 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Lee & Low Books (first published August 2009)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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The Rainbow Zebra
Oct 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teachers, parents
I received this book through GoodReads "First Reads" Giveaway. I love Children's/Young Adult books, and since the subject matter was elephants and India, I knew I would like this before it even got here.

Based on two trips made by authors Ted and Betsy Lewin, Balarama tells the story of an elephant by that name who will be leading the procession of a parade during Dasara, a holy festival in India. Accompanying the text are the dazzling paintings done by Betsy Lewin.

While this book is aimed at ag
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paula
The Lewins continue their accounts of their worldwide adventures, here with two voyages to southern India.

On their first trip, they visited a camp of trained elephants and their handlers in the forest and learned of the royal elephants used for festivals. They met Drona, who was to lead the annual Dasara procession in Mysore in the fall, and they were so enraptured that they decided to return for the festival. Upon their arrival, they learned that Drona had died, and that a new elephant had bee
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Denise Z
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My opinion of the book is that i like it.My genere is memoir.The book is about a elehant that is name Drona she was a great elehant.On 1998 Drona was eating leaves and she pull a branch put she pull a power line and she was electrocuted instandly.And Balarama took her lace of carring the golden howdah.Balarama did awosome and every body was so shocked cause it was her 1 time whih the golden howdah.My shema is that i want to see a elephant.My question is why did Drona pull a branch whith a power ...more
Eyesinthestars
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully illustrated book. The illustrations, especially of the elephants themselves, are simply breathtaking. Perfect for spreading Indian culture and teaching children about the elephants who live there! It's a book I hope to keep for a long time.
Amie
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A cool look at one of the festivals in India focusing on elephants.
Angelique
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love elephants!
Stephanie Croaning
Ted and Betsy Lewin wrote and illustrated this non-fiction picture book that highlights their trips to India to learn about the Mysore Dasara, a Hindu festival, and the royal elephants used in the procession. Told in story form, a great deal is learned about Indian culture and, of course, elephants. Background information about elephants, the royal elephants of Mysore Dasara, and a glossary and pronunciation guide (very helpful!) are contained in the back of the book.

I really wasn't sure that I
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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Every year a special elephant is chosen to lead the parade in a big celebration in India. Balarama is the latest elephant to be so honored.
Both Ted and Betsy Lewin are children’s picture book illustrators. In this book, both draw parts of the story. They have very different styles, with Ted painting big beautiful and realistic illustrations, and Betsy doing cartoon-like drawings.

A little:
“Balarama moves majestically toward one of the palace gates, leading a mile-long procession. Band after band
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Richelle
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Authors Ted and Betsy Lewin recount their trip to India to see Balarama, the elephant chosen to lead the procession in the Mysore Dasara, a Hindu festival. This nonfiction book covers the history of camp elephants in India, elephants that are trained to do a variety of activities and work, as well as he cultural importance of the chosen royal elephant. Told through simple, yet descriptive language, the authors deftly craft a bit of suspense when talking about Balarama's first try at leading the ...more
Eileen Corbett
Apr 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This nonfiction book shows the importance of elephants to the Indian culture. Elephants are trained to do work and to participate in festivals. Dasara is a festival that is celebrated each fall, and the elephant, Drona, has led the festivities for many years. When Drona dies another elephant must be chosen to take his place. This elephant will carry the howday, a golden ceremonial carriage. Is Balarama worthy to become the new royal elephant?


This book uses a captivating story to teach readers ab
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Charlyn
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Charlyn by: Texas Bluebonnet Award Reading List 2011-12
In stunning watercolors and clear prose, the Lewins present their travels to India to see the elephants of India, focusing on the Royal Elephant chose to lead the Mysore Dasara yearly celebration. After meeting Drona,the leader of the celebration for several years, they choose to return the next year during Dasara to see him carry the holden howdad in the parade. When they arrive they learn that Drona has died and another elephant, Balarama, has been chosen to replace him. Through their artwork, ...more
Barbara
Watercolor illustrations are blended with spot illustrations created with reed pen and sumi ink with watercolor washes to capture perfectly Dasara, an annual Hindu festival celebrated in India. Captivated by Drona, the lead elephant in the parade, the couple who have created the book return the next year. Sadly, Drona is no longer alive, and after paying tribute to him, they await the new lead elephant, Balarama, to see if he can live up to his predecessor. Although there is quite a bit of text ...more
Anahi T
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
i liked this information book. it was about elephants in india and people ar going to visit the elphants are in in parade and it,s important because the king wanted elephants for the festivals. my schema is that the pesons was decorade sow pretty the elephants to parade party. guestions-my sguetion is that the elephants and the horses too that party because he can win. recommmend-i recomment this book to Justen bieber.
Melissa
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed learning about elephants in India and found the book well-written. I imagine writing and drawing (and traveling/researching) this book as a couple would be hugely enjoyable. While I admire each artists work individually, for me the juxtaposition of their work was jarring. I particularly like the lush watercolors that span two pages. After a set of these, the pen drawings looked odd. But I've enjoyed her art in other books so I think it was just two much contrast for me within one book.
Karin Gallian
I thought the book did a good job of explaining the annual ritural/ceremony and the importance of elephants to this annual event. The illustrations make you feel like you are a part of the ceremony and shows the rich detail of how decorated these animals become as they are prepared for the procession. The story shares a custom from India and shares the story of Drona and how these elephants are trained and respected by their mahoot. I liked that the book included a glossary and pronunciation gui ...more
Angie
Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Oh so lovely. The illustrators took a trip to India and this tells the story of one of the elephants there. I forsee some fun activities related to elephants correlating to this book!

I will say this, though. It's a little confusing the way the two very different artistic styles are put together. Ted Lewin's watercolors are very soothing. Betsy Lewin's work is more ... cartoony. Which is not to say I don't love her work, because I do. It's just very different from her husband's.
Joseph
Nov 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
This was a really good book! It was cool that the story told you about the elephant kheddas to catch the elephants, and the mahouts, the people that train the elephants. I was sad when Drona died because the Indians said that he had lots of aura when he carried the golden howdah. But Balarama carries just as much aura when he carried the golden howdah. I recommend this book who like to learn about celebrations and like cool pictures.
Erin Reilly-Sanders
Aug 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, picturebook
I really love Ted Lewin's illustrations, but I'm not sure how well they mixed with his wife's more cartoony figures. The subject matter is interesting, but it seems to make a slightly confusing non-fiction picture book because it's both and story and something factual. I would really like to like the book, but somehting just seems slightly off, or missing from it.
Marianna
The concept was good, but the storytelling seemed to skip or glide over important parts. I also found the switch in illustration styles annoying. The rich, full-color illustrations were wonderful, the simplistic child-like illustrations were not. And there didn't seem to be any reason for the switching...
Susie
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 3-5 grades
Nonfiction story of the Royal Elephants, especially one. The Lewin's interest is piqued after meeting Drona and, after his untimely death, continued on to Balarama. Ted Lewin gives much detail in his watercolors while his wife Betsy contributes pen and ink drawings. Background information, glossary, and map are included.
Mariah
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was ok


Lovely artwork and interesting facts make this otherwise ordinary book stand out initially. Information is presented dryly, though, so children are hardly attentive. I am not sure how American visitors could feel "proud" of a royal Indian elephant. Buy it only if you know an adult who loves India or elephants who might want it as a coffee table item.
Katie Logonauts
This touching nonfiction book details the authors visits to India and their interactions with the royal elephants culminating in a giant parade and Mysore Dasara celebration. The back matter includes facts about elephants in general and the royal elephants individually, as well as a glossary and pronunciation guide.
Jason Penckofer
Another book like Horse Song from the Lewins. The two illustration styles were nice, although I found it jarring when they were combined in one picture at the end (realistic elephant and cartoon authors).
Angela
May 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
Perhaps I just "didn't get it," but I did not enjoy this book. I wasn't interested by the story. I spent a summer in India when I was college, so I expected to enjoy this book, but just didn't. I loved the colors in the artwork, but that is about all I liked about this book.
Melanie
A wonderful book about real-life elephants that serve as ceremonial procession leaders. Beautifully illustrated by the Lewins'. My only concern is the depiction of elephants with chains wrapped around their feet or whole bodies. This was not explained and can be disturbing to children and adults.
Nancy Jo Lambert
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! The illustrations were beautiful, and all the information about the elephants at the end was fascinating. I especially enjoyed all the information about Indian culture. I think our kids at RBE will appreciate this book a great deal.
Colette
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Beautifully illustrated documentation of the Lewin's trips to India to see the Royal elephants of Southern India. Pictures so vivid they almost look like photographs. Wonderful side stories keep this nonfiction/informational book alive.
Kris Patrick
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fell in love with alternating watercolor painting and pen & ink illustrations. Think I may be Ted & Betsy Lewin's newest fan. The first page had me worried because it's so sad, but then it becomes a happy joyful book! ...more
Official ATPE
Click here for discussion questions from ATPE!

2011-2012 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List (grades 3-5)
...more
Bindi
Nov 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very nice book with colorful illustrations! It was interesting to read about how these elephants are cared for and treated. An enjoyable read!
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