Title: Elephant Man
Author: Mariangela Di Fiore
Major Themes: Proteus Syndrome
Synopsis: Because Joseph Merritt smelled bad and had growths all over his body, he couldn’t find a job, and ended up on display at freak shows.
As I’ve mentioned in some other reviews, I love picture books that tell a true, obscure story from history. After reading this kind of book, you won’t soon forget about the story it tells. I found Elephant Man to be very fascinating—and sad. My daughter looked over my shoulder as I read the book on my computer, and she wanted to read it, too, as soon as I was done. My sons were also fascinated by the plight of poor Joseph Merritt.
Joseph Merritt was born looking normal, but within a few years his body started growing lumps all over, and he smelled bad. For the rest of his life he struggled. His mother died and his stepmother hated him. He couldn’t hold a job because, even if someone would hire him despite his looks and smell, he had a difficult time using his hands. For awhile, he was displayed by showmen for people to gawk at. Until he was taken in by a doctor and given a room in a hospital in which to live, Joseph’s life was miserable.
Elephant Man is illustrated with a combination of photographs and drawings. You will find this story a fascinating glimpse into the life of a man with a rare disease, probably Proteus syndrome.
Note: I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12