Review of Tua and the Elephant, by R. P. Harris

Tua and the Elephant

by R. P. Harris
illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2012. 202 pages.

Tua and the Elephant is a sweet book about a little girl in Thailand who finds a young elephant who is being abused and rescues her from the bad guys. The story is not, perhaps, absolutely believable, but it is wondrously detailed with the sounds and sights and tastes of Thailand, and definitely a heart-warming tale of a small child helping a creature who needs it and with a happy ending for everyone.

Tua doesn’t think hard when she feels the elephant beckoning her to rescue it from the cruel mahouts. But after she walks away with it, her thoughts catch up with her:

Where does one take an elephant — a fugitive elephant, at that — in the city of Chiang Mai? How does one hide an elephant? Elephants don’t fit into closets, boxes, or drawers. One can’t simply toss a blanket over an elephant and call it a job well done. Someone is bound to notice. Elephants, for better or for worse, draw attention to themselves. . . .

The very next thought that stumbled into Tua’s mind was: What am I going to tell my mother?

She imagined herself saying, “Mama, guess what I found?”

That might work with a kitten or a puppy, but it wasn’t going to work with an elephant. And how would she get it up the apartment stairs? Where would it sleep? What does an elephant eat?

Taking the elephant home was definitely out of the question.

This is a great choice for children around middle elementary school who have started reading chapter books. The book has twenty-nine short chapters, plenty of illustrations, and a definitely compelling story in a setting not often read about in children’s books. A lovely addition to our library’s shelves.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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