Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tua and the Elephant

Harris, R. P. 2012. TUA AND THE ELEPHANT. Ill. by Yoo, Taeeun. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. ISBN 9780811877817 [Suggested Grade Levels 4 - 6]

R. P. Harris tells a tale of true friendship between an elephant and a young girl.  Tau (short for peanut) is a spunky and determined 10 year old heroine.  After catching the eye of an abused elephant on a crowded street, an instant connection was made.  She immediately embarks a quest to save the elephant from two abusive manhouts (elephant keepers).  Tua and Phon Phon, the elephant, trek across Thailand in search of help and safety.  This rich narrative beautifully describes Thailand as Tua travels from the city into the countryside meeting and encountering a host of interesting characters.

Animal rights is a strong theme throughout the book, without being heavy handed.  Harris’s focus is on the friendship and the journey rather than a didactic lesson about how to treat animals.

In addition the book is beautifully illustrated with heavy use of the colors purple and yellow.  Next to the purple type face this creates a warm and light read, perfect for those middle grade students who have interest in Eastern cultures, animal rights, or an engaging story.

The thought of a young girl taking a multi day journey to save an elephant may seem to some to be unrealistic, but to a young reader Tua’s story is empowering.  

This book can be an excellent jumping point to begin a discussion of animal rights or the Thai culture.  R. P. Harris was inspired to write Tua’s story after visiting an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.

Other books about friendship and animal rights:
Applegate, Katherine. THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN.  ISBN 9780061992254
DiCamillo, Kate. THE TIGER RISING. ISBN 9780763653835

By Emily Fultz

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