A Dangerous Life – Graphic Novel Review
By Gabriel Thoumi
A Dangerous Life is a graphic novel for young teens written by Sheila Hamanaka. It describes the story of an American girl – Amelia – and her life changing experiences when she witnesses an elephant slaughter in Kenya. The graphic novel is a wonderful gift for any young person who is interested in conservation. The language and tone are appropriate for young adults while heartstrings will be pulled as Amelia learns to take action to prevent our ongoing elephant extinction epidemic.
A Dangerous Life is available free for teachers, and is a useful teaching tool to explain to students why individuals are slaughtering elephants – for their ivory, their hides, and the body parts. A Dangerous Life also explains elephant community structure, describing how elephants form lifelong families and deep relationships with each other—much like humans. It talks about how elephants raise their young, how they grow together, and how elephants grieve the deaths of community members.
For adults, A Dangerous Life is vivid, graphic reminder about how elephants are quickly becoming extinct – from 26 million elephants in Africa in 1800 to less than 700,000 African elephants and less than 32,000 Asian elephants today.
A Dangerous Life also tells us what young people can do now today to stop elephant extinction, including
- Write letters to politicians asking them to ban ivory trade and sales.
- Send rangers who protect elephants thank you cards and letters (these can be sent to the Animal Welfare Institute who will pass them on).
- Send a letter to the local newspaper – both online and print – asking your community to ban ivory sales.
- Tell classmates how great elephants are and how important it is to save them.
- Ask financial institutions to not fund companies that support directly or indirectly ivory trade and sales.
- If traveling to an area with elephants, be an “eco-tourist” to appreciate elephants, and thank rangers in person.
- Never, ever buy, sell, or wear ivory.
A Dangerous Life is a splendid graphic novel that can be enjoyed by young adults everywhere as well as a great teaching tool.
How to order:
A Dangerous Life
Publisher: Animal Welfare Institute and Kenya Wildlife Service
Author: Sheila Hamanaka with Lisa Barile, Rosalie Knox, and Julie Lien
Gabriel Thoumi, CFA, Certified Ecologist, is a frequent contributor to Mongabay.com.