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She Leads

The Elephant Matriarch

By June Smalls

Illustrated by Yumi Shimokawara

She is the Queen. The matriarch.

She leads her daughters and their daughters.

Inspiring text and striking illustrations follow the empowering journey of an elephant matriarch as she leads her family through the wilds of Africa. With facts about African elephants on every spread and a message that will encourage young girls to be the trailblazers of their generation, She Leads offers an incredible story and an unforgettable tribute to the strength of a true leader.

Open your eyes, princess. One day you will lead.

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Meet the Authors
June Smalls headshot

June Smalls

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Yumi Shimokawara headshot

Yumi Shimokawara

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Review quotes

"This fascinating, fact-filled look at an awesome elephant matriarch shepherding her family will fill readers with wonder and, not so coincidentally, will likely inspire human girls to feel empowered about their own leadership abilities...This leads the way among lovely books about elephants for young children."
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This is a high-quality text, making it suitable for any school library or elementary school classroom." 
-Seattle Book Review

"Employing two levels of text (brief, with a large font suitable for young listeners, and more
detailed for older children or caregivers, in a smaller font), Smalls introduces the matriarchal
society of African elephant herds...Shimokawara's naturalistic illustrations offer realistic
depictions of these mammals involved in many different activities, ranging from foraging to
frolicking to trumpeting important messages."
- Kay Weisman, Booklist

"Inspiring the next generation to care about elephants is one of our goals, and She Leads does just that while being compassionate and accurate. We look forward to the future conservationists this book will inspire!"
—Sarah Conley, conservation coordinator, International Elephant Foundation

"Through lyrical text accompanied by facts on each page, this book celebrates the strength and leadership of an elephant matriarch...The narrative is well told and offers enough information to educate readers without overwhelming them. The focus on female leadership is powerful and timely and presents opportunities to draw connections with other animal societies (including human ones)."
-School Library Journal

"I am very impressed with the text, the illustrations, and the tone of the book on many levels. The illustrations are rich, the text is well-researched, and the story is one that many people will connect with easily. I am heartened and excited by the messages and information presented in regards to the wonderful social structure and the amazing behavior of these incredible creatures. Elephants have been role models for me in life for over twenty years, and I am in awe of them with every new fact that I learn and with every new insight into how they see the world and one another. She Leads captures that awe on many levels and sends strong and meaningful messages about the importance of family, leadership, and compassion."

- Mike McClure, Maryland Zoo general curator and elephant collection manager

"With simple, yet lyrical text and stunning illustrations, She Leads: The Elephant Matriarch beautifully demonstrates the elegant grace and proud nature of these extraordinary animals for young readers."
- Lindsay Ward, author and illustrator of Don't Forget Dexter

"A quietly powerful book about real girl power in the animal kindom. She Leads manages tobe both straightforward and moving, fact-filled and lyrical, and always firmly grounded in the power, nurturing strength, and beauty of the elephant matriarch and her legacy to those who will follow. Yumi Shimokawara's naturalistic illustrations bring the queen and her society to life, while June Small's main text offers the elegance of poetry, filled out by more information in the sidebars on each page. Ideal for story time, the classroom, or bedtime reading."
- Kathy MacMillan, librarian and coauthor of She Spoke: 14 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World

"This beautifully illustrated book has my two favorite things: nature and girl power. Its tender family story is paired, on each page, with facts about the matriarchal society of elephants, which means kids who love strict nonfiction and those who prefer a story line will both be satisfied. A must-have in every child's library."
- Heidi E. Y. Stemple, poet and author of Counting Birds: The Idea that Helped Save Our Feathered Friends
Product Details
Age range
3 - 8
Grade range
P - 3
Number of pages
Publication date
May 26, 2020
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