For elephants, one would think the Saint Louis Zoo
would be a place to escape from
, not to. Earlier this year, In Defense of Animals
, an animal rights organization, named the zoo to its "Hall of Shame"
on its Top Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list. A month later, one of the elephants, Jade, contracted herpes
Word, apparently, has not spread throughout the wider elephant community, at least not in the fictional universe of fifth grader Claire Maher, who just published her first book, Puff's Island Escape
The book concerns the adventures of an elephant named Puff who lives in the wild on a small island. Puff does not realize what a lucky bastard he is, though, and yearns for a life where he can endless French fries and wash them down with buckets of soda. In the end, he gets his wish, and escapes to captivity and the Saint Louis Zoo.
Claire is a disgustingly well-traveled kid (she has been to Malaysia, Thailand, China, Singapore, Borneo, England and Ireland). One of the characters in Puff's Island Escap
e, Bananas the monkey who introduces Puff to the wonders of junk food, was inspired by a monkey she met in the Malaysian rain forest who stole food from people's breakfast plates.Puff's Island Escape
began as a fourth-grade story-writing
project. Claire's school librarian forwarded the manuscript to KidPub
Press, a vanity press for children's writing. The book is now for sale
on KidPub's website and Amazon. Claire plans to donate the profits to
Microfinancing Partners in Africa
and Doctors Without Borders
. But not
to In Defense of Animals.