New Book

My next book will have a very few readers. That is because of the small number of copies: one, to be exact. It is to be called The Little Elephant’s Book of Quotations.

This is how it came about: my son and daughter-in-law in New York sent me a blank journal as a Christmas gift this year. In the past, my children and others have given me several such books. They seem to know the delight of pages pristine and waiting to be written upon.

Yes, I have a few of them. My journal with the Italian faux leather cover became a book of prayers. My small green book contains poems I hope someday to have memorized. The book with a fabric cover embroidered in flowers is now titled Words to Cherish, in which I keep and preserve nice things that are said to me. I am storing them up, I suppose, to get me through leaner times. After I am gone and my family members sort through my belongings, the book of words to cherish will surely give rise to amusement or perhaps incredulity. Now beside the others on the shelf will be the elephant book.

The heavy pulpy paper cover depicts in bas relief two whimsical elephants—a mother and baby—apparently having come down to the river to drink or to bathe. Open the book and you find the pages to be of the same rough-textured paper, in dusky deep colors of rose, purple, mauve, peach. A note that came with the book explains that the paper is actually made of elephant dung. Environmentalists are engaged in economic development as a way to help save the elephant population in Sri Lanka and to benefit the human population at the same time. Win-win.

And why did I choose to make this gift a book of quotations? Elephants remember, is why. I think of the mother elephant lumbering through the jungle or forest imparting life lessons to her youngster. Surely it is the baby elephant that does not yet trust itself to remember and must take a few notes along the way. I imagine even that she or he could wish for just such a book as this, made of the most humble material there is, thereby to save a number of trees.

You can learn more about Pachyderm Paper at