By: R.P. Harris
Illustrated by: Taeeun Yoo
Published by: Chronicle Books
Received from: ARC from publisher at ALA midwinter
Released on: April 18th, 2012
4 stars: I Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon
Ten-year-old Tua Thai for peanut has everything she needs at home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, except for one thing she s always wanted: a sister. In the market one day, Tua makes an accidental acquaintance one with wise, loving eyes, remarkable strength, and a very curious trunk. And when Tua meets Pohn-Pohn, it s clear this elephant needs her help. Together, the unusual team sets off on a remarkable journey to escape from Pohn-Pohn s vile captors. From the bustling night market to the hallowed halls of a Buddhist temple and finally, to the sanctuary of an elephant refuge, this clever girl and her beloved companion find that right under their noses is exactly what each has been searching for: a friend - quoted from Goodreads
A delightfully diverse middle grade read, Tua and the Elephant is a story about a young girl named Tua who "adopts" a young elephant, and their adventures together. Set in the bustling back drop of Thailand, Tua's story offers authenticity and richness to a culture not often found in books for young readers. I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into the culture through Tua's daily adventures through the market, and her wondering around. Debut author R.P. Harris did a superb job at capturing my attention with his descriptions of Thailand's sights, smells and sounds. He also includes some Thai words in his story. As a reader, I loved how easy it was for me to picture the setting that made up Tua's story, and feel like I was getting a glimpse into it.
Tua is a character readers will enjoy getting to know. Not only is she a young female Thai protagonist, but she's a pretty clever girl. Given that her mother is often times working to support them, Tua is often times left to wonder the market and visit her other family members. The thing I loved about Tua is her big heart, which leads her to rescue Pohn-Pohn, the young elephant she finds and frees. I loved the bond these two had. It seemed like they immediately hit it off, and understood each other to a degree. It was refreshing to see a different kind of friendships formed in this story, and it was one that given the setting felt realistic to me.
Tua rescues Phon-Phon from some pretty horrid guys who abused poor Pohn-Pohn, and end up pursuing Tua and Pohn-Pohn through out the book. While that unnerved a little bit being a mother and knowing how young Tua is, I loved that Tua wants nothing more than to see her elephant safe, and she will do all that she can, along with the help of her family and friends, to see her elephant make it to a sanitary. A heartwarming, adorable adventure ensues and it's one that I'm sure will capture the attention of children and adult readers a like.
This story has some strong solid themes of friendship, doing what's right, and elephant rescues. To match this wonderful story are some lovely illustrations! The illustrations are fabulous treat to this book, and really compliment R.P. Harris's attention to detail for the story! I think readers, teachers and librarians will enjoy this story's diversity, the wonderful message and seeing how a young girl made all the difference in the life of one elephant.