From the Publisher
"A gem! - ReadKiddoRead.com"
A charming story sure to capture the hearts of young readers" - School Library Journal"
Pure adventure. " - The New York Times"
Enchanting. . . A strong read-aloud choice. " - Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review"
Charming" - Education.com"
A rousing adventure." - Kirkus Reviews Starred Review
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Ten-year old Tua lives with her mother in Chiang Mai, Thailand. One evening, she goes out to play by wandering around the markets and visiting the vendors in town. She comes across two elephant keepers, or mahouts, who keep a young elephant in chains. She notices the mahouts' cruel treatment of the elephant and decides to take action. Her rescue leads to quite an amazing adventure to save the elephant and escape from Naj and Nang, the mahouts. The love between Tua and Pohn-Pohn, the elephant, grows during their journey from the mahout's camp to Auntie Orchid's home, and then on to a Buddhist temple, and finally to the elephant refuge. Their travels may seem almost too incredible. Yoo's illustrations are in tones and shades of yellows and purples. Readers will find a table of contents for the titled chapters. The prologue provides a short background on how Tua received her name. The author's note at the end of the story briefly describes his inspiration. The story may provide different points of discussion on topics such as culture, friendship, and animal care. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Children will be smitten with Harris's endearing story about a tender friendship between a girl and the elephant whose life she is trying to save. Nine-year-old Tua (Peanut) lives with her mother in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a lively place where everyone seems to know and watch out for one another. One day at the bustling night market, she encounters an elephant being forcefully led by two sleazy con men who are masquerading as mahouts. Tua and the elephant connect and quickly forge a strong emotional bond. Determined to rescue her new friend from a horrific situation, she deftly sneaks her away from her captors. Navigating the crowded streets is no easy feat with an elephant in tow, but they eventually end up at the house of Tua's charismatic Auntie Orchid. Though sympathetic, she is unable to harbor the fugitive pachyderm and directs her niece to a Buddhist temple that has walls tall enough to hide the large animal. At the temple, Tua and the newly named Pohn-Pohn (Double-Happiness) are told that the best place for an elephant is a sanctuary run by a compassionate animal lover. Tua endeavors to get Pohn-Pohn to safety while avoiding the criminal mahouts, who have been pursuing them all along. Yoo's vibrant full-page illustrations, rendered in charcoal and linoleum-block printing, perfectly complement and elevate Harris's remarkable tale. A charming story sure to capture the hearts of young readers.—Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA
How do you hide an elephant? Inspired by a trip to an Asian elephant refuge, Harris transports young readers to the lands of curry, banana leaves and the bustling Chiang Mai Night Market. Little 9-year-old Tua, which means "peanut" in Thai, finds a young, but very large captured elephant. Their connection is instant. But this elephant is chained, used as tourist bait. Tua must face dangers including poachers and treacherous rivers as she steals away with the young elephant, pursued by two menacing mahouts, or elephant drivers. Naming her new friend Pohn Pohn, Tua escapes with her to a Buddhist temple, where she learns of an elephant preserve in the mountains. Will Tua be successful in getting Pohn Pohn into the preserve? For a book aimed at middle graders, kudos on three fronts: providing a child's-eye view of Thailand with foreign words to be decoded in context, creating a strong connection between the elephant and the girl and using a simple vocabulary to introduce the complex issue of poaching. Yoo's multiple illustrations, done in charcoal and linoleum block prints, catapult the story even higher. Foreign yet familiar, the action is often humorous and reinforces the sweet bond between pachyderm and "peanut." A rousing adventure that introduces the issue of elephant trafficking in a gentle and appropriate way. (Fiction. 8-12)
…[a] charming novel for middle-grade readers…Harris touches on serious social issues (children living in dumps and mothers begging with infants), but ear tweaking and nose yanking are about as violent as it gets for the humans. The histories of the elephants at the sanctuary are horrifying, but are firmly in the past, with the elephants living happily in the present. This gentle approach makes for a wonderful and entirely age-appropriate introduction to both the plight of the Asian elephant and the good kind of mahout, set against a backdrop of pure adventure.
The New York Times Book Review