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Reviews

Amber Collins Aaseng, a reader - June 23, 2004

I feel that I must write to you right away because I have unfortunately just finished the story of Noah, The Wanderer of Nowhere of Late. I say unfortunately because Noah has become a part of who I am, his stories moved me in ways I didn't think possible, and I am sad to lose him. I honestly don't remember a time in my long history of reading great literature that I laughed, cried, became so angry, and so infinitely moved by just one story. The story of Noah is timeless and heart-wrenching, in all the right places. I have to admit that I was skeptical of reading this book because, well, it is about an elephant, how would I ever relate? Well, you certainly proved me wrong, and you did so by the first ten pages.

Noah's quest mirrors the journey we all wish to take throughout our lives on this earth. We want to experience life, we want to see the vast globe, we want to share our wisdom with those who will listen. There were times when I honestly didn't think I would get through it...when he was banished from the Forest Between, when he lost Caleb, when he met Moses, William, Augustus, Miss Sophia, and then lost them all...and don't even get me started on finding Benjamin in the menagerie...it was endless, these emotions your writing evoked. There were SO MANY wonderful gems in there that I would read them over and over, some sentences, just so I could absorb it all fully. Noah was SO wise, his countenance so strong, his spirit so incredibly vulnerable and, in the end, unbreakable.

I cried SO HARD through the last third of this book that I am honestly surprised I was able to keep it together emotionally, at all, in order to run my household. I also have to tell you that I was able to literally fly through this book in less than a week and a half, and that's while taking care of a very active one year old. I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN.

You have done nothing short of brilliance with this novel and I commend your creativity for it. With Noah, I have welcomed a very different kind of hero into my life. I have since started a new book, and I am finding it hard to get Noah out of my head in order for me to move on...that must sound a bit silly to you. I have since started reading the diaries of Anais Nin....it's all very romantic and incredibly destructive. It takes me back to those college days of hoarding DH Lawrence and Edith Wharton as though I were the only one who knew about them at the time. Oh, those silly school days when we knew everything.

What I loved about In the Way That Elephants Do is that it was so completely different from anything I have ever read before in my entire life, it was daring and original, and it has given me faith that there are writers out there, like yourself, who don't wish to mimic the obvious. My only regret is that my favorite college professor, who I am sure would have embraced this novel, has recently passed and I will never get to recommend it to him, he would have loved it. I have recommended it to anyone and everyone who will listen to me go on and on about this wonderful elephant.

Thank you, Mr. Kilpatrick, for sharing such a wonderful story with us.

*****

Joanie "DaGoddess" fellow blogger at dagoddess.com:

October 24, 2003

Sometimes I despair over my writing career. The success ebbs and flows like the tide, with the good times coming in every seventh wave. At the low point, I inevitably receive a review like the one below that reminds me that my ultimate objective as a writer is touch people at the deepest depths of their souls. It is my job, and should be the job, of all writers.

From my friend DaGoddess, her review of In The Way That Elephants Do:

Touching, thought-provoking, and beautifully told, the story of Noah, and that of mankind, is one that will linger in your heart and your mind for a very long time. In The Way That Elephants Do by David Kilpatrick is a deeply moving epic tale of one elephant's life. Although the story is told from the perspective of an inquisitive and nomadic pachyderm, you're drawn into his world with ease. Danger, love, history, the world, and the connection between humans and animals are deftly combined in the portrait of Noah, the Wanderer. Noah tells his story to a boy, one of the few "Keepers" who can understand his tale. The story isn't just about him, it's about elephants, man, our relationship through history, and it's done in a way that our history books will never allow. History, the good and the bad, is revealed without revision. No excuses for bad behavior, only the understanding that this is simply how we humans, and elephants, are. There is something here that rings so true and pure. Moving, even haunting, without ever becoming preachy. Perhaps the story of Noah, and of all elephants, isn't that different from that of humankind. Perhaps the story flows so well and with such clarity because it's told simply. Maybe it's the honesty and the "no excuses" manner in which the tale is related. Or, possibly, the magic of this story is in the relationship between man and animal and our desire to be the chosen one. The one to whom this story is told. Because of the way the book is written, the reader does become the chosen one. We're taken into Noah's confidence as one who will understand. I can't imagine the months of research put into this book. I don't know how David does it, but he blends the history of man and animal seamlessly into a thought-provoking tale that turns the way one views the world on end. Man's stewardship of animals is examined, and exposed - warts and all. Our failings and our successes, painted in loving strokes on the canvas that becomes one of the best books I've ever read. I will never look at animals the same again. I bet you don't either.

Thanks a million, J.; It was my honor to touch your soul.

********

Writer's Digest magazine

2001 Self-Published Book Awards

This review was done by an anonymous staff member of the magazine for the contest. Although the book didn't place, it got a good review.

This is a compelling novel in the tradition of The Black Stallion. Lots of intriguing lore about elephants wrapped around a deceptively simple story that never descends into the predictable. Noah the elephant has his own "voice" and is a dignified story teller. There is nothing cutesy or Disneyesque about his tale, yet there is life in all its emotional variety. The description of Noah's world, from his birthplace to the circus to the zoo, is a sensual, multi-level experience. The writing here is a sheer pleasure Animal lovers need to see this book. Get this book to the Hollywood tracking circuit!

Nature Haven , Denise Hargrove, webhost - October 7, 2001

I have read a great book, and it is called "In the Way That Elephants Do" by David L. Kilpatrick. This was a very good book where the main character is an elephant, but it is so much more! It is the history of elephants, the world, and one heck of a good tale! The spiritual side of it was very moving. It comprises the life of one adventurous elephant and all the events of his life. His friendship with other species should make us envious as to how to get along with people and animals who are different from us. Some parts are so sad, but some were wondrously happy and loving like his relationship with his best friend...Please read this one!

TCU Magazine, March 16, 2001

Kilpatrick's Noah is a gentle, insightful character and a gifted storyteller. Sharing the travels of this wonderous animal is a delightful journey into an existence beyond our own -- and yet all at once marvelously familiar.

Fort Worth Weekly Newspaper, September 28, 2000

Animal magnetism

FW author's children's/adult book about an elephant has a certain attraction.
By Graham Averill

There's a buzz in the literary world. Authors and publishers lament to each other that "the book is dead." They mean the traditional idea of a book: a sturdy cover wrapped around paper filled with words. They say it's dead because of the literary activity of the internet. Authors such as Stephen King giving his work directly to the readers for a dollar a chapter and "publishing houses" like 1stbooks.com, a company that publishes works in two main forms: print on demand, and the e-book. 1stbooks itself aims to "revolutionize the publishing industry" according to its website, a virtual bookstore, by capitalizing on the print-on-demand method and the e-book, the "book of tomorrow" as 1stbooks has dubbed it.

Fort Worth's own David L. Kilpatrick, a graduate of TCU, has written one of these "books of tomorrow" for 1stbooks. In the Way That Elephants Do tells the story of Noah, a friendly 100-year-old bull elephant that travels from one adventure to another from his birthplace in the plains of East Africa to a broken-down zoo in middle America. We travel with Noah through feast and famine, through his roguish wandering years, into captivity, and in and out of hardships and friendships. The tale has the same characteristics that make the Disney formula so popular; lovable animals take on the traits of humans as they struggle through one mishap or another, coping with the problems of life and, as in some of the more philosophical Disney stories, trying to understand and cohabitate with the ways of humanity.

Kilpatrick, however, can't seem to reconcile within himself who the audience of the story is. The adventures detailed in the book have a Disney-esque feel, but the book itself is 600 pages, far too thick to be marketed for children or young adults. The language and content is very didactic and seems to be geared to a younger audience, but again, certain scenes teach lessons that most children's books wouldn't enforce, such as the necessity of avenging certain deeds by use of force.

The author admits that agents and publishers raised the same concerns about the book. "Many agreed the book was good," Kilpatrick said, "but were afraid that it wouldn't sell. Publishers are big into 'genre' fiction with a guaranteed market. No guaranteed payback, no publish-is-the-mantra of the mainstream publishing houses. I think older kids will enjoy it, but this book is for anyone who craves something different to read."

Kilpatrick's style is also a little confusing at times. He has a tendency to write like Yoda from Star Wars. He uses a repetitive, inverted syntax in much of his dialogue and descriptions. Lines like "A most terrible thing, it is" or "a band of rogues, they are" pop up throughout the text. It's a style of speech common in parts of Britain, so the reader unwittingly gives every character in the story a British accent, no matter where their origins.

In spite of Kilpatrick's quirks in style and his inability to direct the story to a particular audience, the reader finds himself compelled to read through the 600 pages. The book took "literally hundreds of hours of research" on African wildlife and historical events, according to the author. As a result, the story is so intriguing and has so many high points, that the reader finds it necessary and downright enjoyable to get through this beast of a book. Kilpatrick takes us to the battle of Carthage and Rome through the eyes of one of Noah's ancestors, into a death march with one of Noah's close relatives, and into circus captivity with the narrating elephant himself. The tales are so genuine and the struggles are so familiar that In the Way That Elephants Do is well worth the time and effort. Each adventure could even be broken up and read in episodes for the young reader with less of an attention span.

Whether or not 1stbooks is revolutionizing the publishing industry with books like this remains to be seen. Kilpatrick says he's excited at the possibilities opened up by the new form of publishing and is working to get two of his other four completed novels published with 1stbooks. What is apparent is that Kilpatrick has a good story to tell, and whether it comes off a computer screen, or out of a paperback, it's worth reading.

FILL YOUR SPIRIT

November 8, 2000 Amazon.com

Reviewer: Renee Williams from San Jose, California

I believe we all need a little dose of something that fills the spirit. In The Way That Elephants Do, you travel the road of life with Noah the Wanderer and feel his triumphs, heartaches, and at times deep pain. I found myself indentifying with Noah as he met the various challenges in his life ranging from coming of age, to the death of a loved one, to the betrayel of those closes to him. This is a must read for those that are real "feelers" and enjoy characters in a novel coming to life. I found myself laughing and crying, as will you.

A NEW AMERICAN CLASSIC

August 26, 2000 Amazon.com

Reviewer: Laurie Painter Cashen from Mount Vernon, Washington

I just finished reading "In the Way That Elephants Do." My mother read it, and immediately ordered copies for my sister and brother and me. The story of Noah the Wanderer teaches the reader many things, from patience, perserverence, and practicality, to strength, stamina, and stability, and all the wonderful qualities in between. I laughed with Noah at the antics of his wonderful friends and at himself; I cried with his disappointments and trials; I rejoiced with him during achievements and successes. As soon as my mother-in-law finishes the book, I will read it again. This time with my children.

YOU WILL DANCE WITH JOY

July 14, 2000 - Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble

Reviewer: Raymond Van Cleef, Ed.D. from Breckenridge, Colorado

Wow! Want to experience the life of an elephant? Learn about the behavior of man as perceived by elephants? Visit the African elephant homeland? Learn about the role of elephants as trained warriors during ancient times? Then read this book! Noah the Wanderer creatively speaks directly to the reader. He shares his fascinating life of adventure, sorrow, pain, and happiness as he grows up in the flatlands of Africa, explores the continent, is captured and forced into slavery in Europe, and how he eventually ends up in North America. This is a book filled with insights into not only the psyche of the elephant but of men throughout the ages. Highly readable, the author provides ample exciting and humorous incidents that give reason to continue to discover next what will happen to this noble, loyal, courageous, and astounding friend.

AN IMPASSIONED, INSPIRED WORK

July 7, 2000 - Amazon.com

Reviewer: Steven Maller - Burlingame, California

This is a monumental piece of work! The author was clearly driven to write it, and his inspiration is quite clear throughout. It is a must for any reader who loves elephants. I read it on a recent family trip to Africa, and it was wonderful accompaniment.

YOU REALLY WANT TO READ THIS BOOK!

June 23, 2000 - Amazon.com

Reviewer: Wayne Hepburn, host of WildHeart.com Elephanteria

This is a lengthy but excellent novel. It is set up as an autobiography of an ancient African bull elephant whose true name is Noah. Noah telepaths his story to a young human boy as the elephant nears the end of his exceedingly long life. The nature of the story is one of high adventure, told always in the first person by Noah himself but including dialog from other characters, most notably animals he befriends. The narrative traces his birth on the savanna through his leaving his family, as bulls do, and wandering his way through all kinds of adventures, mischiefs, calamities and so forth. The writer uses Noah's voice to express ideals of friendship, loyalty, faith in God, and other virtues and includes pretty solid facts about wild and captive elephant life in the time span of the story ... late 19th century through the two great wars and into the late 20th century. By all means read this if you truly enjoy and appreciate elephants.

MESMERIZING

B & N.com

Reviewer: D. Canedy from San Diego, California:

Mesmerizing, sensitive, superbly written book. Beautiful, but not tedious, descriptions. Written from the heart to touch readers' hearts, which it definitely does. I recommend this book wholeheartedly to all. A bit of history, a bit of sadness and pain, but much joy and happiness too. Profoundly intuitive study of humanity, as seen through the eyes of an elephant.

SUPERB READING!

April 28, 2000 - Amazon.com

Reviewer: D.J. Meyers from Springfield, Missouri

A 'must read' for animal lovers and history buffs. The author skillfully transports the reader into the fascinating world of elephant history and family life through the eyes of 'Noah, the Wanderer.' A spellbinding and inspirational novel - destined to become a 'Classic.'!!!! WHAT A TALENT! B & N.com Reviewer: R. Zieglar from Fort Worth, Texas: Such a great book that stirred every emotion. It is fun, exciting, thrilling, sad, and humorous; it's a book I found I could not stop reading. And when I did finish, I found I wanted to read more literary works from this author. What a talent!