My nine-year-old daughter's teacher enjoys sharing contemporary children's novels with his class. Recently, he did Elephant Run by Roland Smith as a read-aloud for the class. Suzy enjoyed it and wanted to read it on her own, too, so she checked it out from the county library.
When she arrived home with the book, she suggested I might like to read it, too.
OK. Elephants, Burma, World War II, it sounded pretty interesting. And I wasn't disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed Elephant Run. We've both finished it now, so we've both reviewed it. You can read Suzy's review on her blog, SuperBookGirl.
The book begins in London, 1941. Thirteen-year-old Nick Freestone's mother sends him to live in Burma with his father after their home is destroyed in a bombing raid. Nick's father owns a teak plantation, which uses elephants for logging. Unfortunately, the Japanese arrive almost immediately after Nick does, taking his father to a prison camp and occupying the plantation. It's a story of Nick's survival and eventual attempt to rescue his father.
It's a great novel for ages 9-12. The book is well written, with an engaging and exciting story. It doesn't gloss over bad things that happened in World War II (deaths of some people on the plantation, for instance) but also doesn't get excessively graphic. Nick is clearly attracted to his friend Mya, but it's not overly emphasized (it's not a kissing book!).
I also thought it was interesting to see a different piece of the World War II story. History and historical fiction doesn't often focus on Burma, and personally, I've read much more about the European part of the war.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 9-12, and older kids and adults will enjoy it, too.