The White Bone is a Canadian novel written by Barbara Gowdy and published by HarperCollins in 1999. Sometimes compared to Richard Adams's Watership Down, it is an adult fantasy story about animals—in this case, African elephants--in a realistic natural setting but given the ability to speak to one another throughout the book. Subsequently, the elephants are given anthropomorphized personalities and have created their own religion, folklore, and customs, all based on the author's research on elephant behavior.
The novel includes a map of the section of African landscape that the story occurs in, as well as several family trees of the elephant characters and a glossary of terms used in elephant speech (unlike in Watership Down, the characters do not speak their own language, but use certain words to define objects not found in their language, such as "big grass" for bamboo and "delirium" for estrus).
The novel is told entirely from the points of view of its elephant characters. Much like real elephants, all female elephants (cows) and prepubescent males (bulls) live in matrilineal family groups, and mature male elephants are loners. The main characters in the novel are mostly from