ELEPHANT MAN by Mariangela Di Fiore
Joseph Merrick was born in 1890 at a time when relatively little was known about genetic diseases. When his skin began to grow wrinkly lumps and his body to become deformed, people thought he was a monster. When he became a teenager, his step mother threw him out of their home, and Joseph had no option but to travel the world being displayed as a circus freak. After being swindled out of all of his money, Joseph finally found an accepting home at a hospital in London where Dr. Frederick Treves treated him with dignity and studied his disease. There, Joseph finally began to enjoy his life and to express himself by writing poetry.
This children’s picture book tells Joseph’s story as a narrative, focusing on what Joseph must have felt like being ridiculed and bullied for so many years. Through Joseph’s story, the author makes the point that every person has value and true beauty is internal. The story is simply told, in a way that will be accessible as a read-aloud for younger elementary students or for older elementary-aged students to read themselves.