Books, Reviews

The Elephant Girl: Heartwarming Powerful Read

Today’s book is The Elephant Girl, and is, like I mention in my title, a heartwarming and powerful coming-of-age read. Read on to find out more about the book and my thoughts on it, as well as recommendations around this book.

It has been a scorcher of a long weekend here; with each day competing to be hotter than the previous one, today has topped it at 103 F for us. So we stayed indoors for most of the weekend, though had to step out at some point to give our vehicles a long overdue wash. Thankfully, that task involved water so it helped a bit though we were diligent about the amounts we used. For those of you in the US, how did you spend your long weekend?

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The Elephant Girl

Book Info

Title: The Elephant Girl
Author: James Patterson and Ellen Banda-Aaku with Sophia Krevoy
Genre: Children’s Books (9 – 12 years and up)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (July 25, 2022)


#1 bestselling author James Patterson and award-winning author Ellen Banda-Aaku deliver an unforgettable story of a girl, an elephant, and their life-changing friendship—perfect for fans of The One and Only IvanPax, and Because of Winn-Dixie.
Clever, sensitive Jama likes elephants better than people. While her classmates gossip—especially about the new boy, Leku—twelve-year-old Jama takes refuge at the watering hole outside her village. There she befriends a baby elephant she names Mbegu, Swahili for seed. 
When Mbegu’s mother, frightened by poachers, stampedes, Jama and Mbegu are blamed for two deaths—one elephant and one human. Now Leku, whose mysterious and imposing father is head ranger at the conservancy, may be their only lifeline.    
Inspired by true events, The Elephant Girl is a moving exploration of the bonds between creatures and the power of belonging. 

My Thoughts

First Thoughts (after turning the final page)

What can I say about this book? It is beautifully written, tugs at heartstrings throughout, leaves me in awe of the strength of the protagonist – the elephant girl, takes me right to the locations featured, all the while being so very real and believable!

More About What I Loved

  • Learning about the Maasai culture, and at how the Maasai people connect with nature and wildlife
  • The short chapters combined with a fast pace and beautiful, straightforward writing
  • Underlying themes of beginning afresh, almost like the phoenix, and of forging friendships where you find them
  • Both the glossary and authors’ notes at the end.

Note that this is realistic fiction, and does have events and incidents that might be disturbing to some young readers (older readers too) but is a must read despite that or rather, because of that; and in the end, it will leave you feeling so much more better for having read it.

Also, note that this is a book that definitely lends to conversations about conservation, discussions about poaching and elephant as well as wildlife behavior, and opportunities for learning so much more.

Final Thoughts

Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time; inspiring and uplifting; empowering, entertaining, and educational, …I can go on about it, but will stop here and simply say that this is a must-read.

Keep in mind that once you get started on reading this book, you will want to keep reading it to the end.

So what are you waiting for? Get it here for yourself or someone you know will love it.

Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC from NetGalley, and these are my honest opinions.

cover of the book elephant girl showing a girl hugging a baby elephant

Linking to It’s Monday What Are You Reading? at TeachMentorTexts

Related Reads and Recommended Activities

Pair The Elephant Girl with a nonfiction read like She Leads or with other fictional reads like The Elephant’s Girl mentioned above (or even the delightful The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra to get a different perspective of the bond between humans and animals.

And Now the End of this Post

Dear reader, have you read this book? Or other similar reads? Will you be picking this to read for yourself soon? I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations.

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