Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

An Elephant in the Garden is inspired by historical fact (click here) and by the author's admiration for an animal he calls "the noblest and wisest, and most sensitive of all creatures."  It is a story that brings together an unlikely group of survivors whose faith in kindness and love proves the best weapon of all.

The bombing of Dresden looms and Lizzie's mother, a zookeeper, persuades the zoo director to allow Marlene, a young elephant that has bonded with Lizzie and her younger brother, Karl, to be kept safe in their garden.  Their home is destroyed when bombs are dropped, so the family and Marlene have no choice but to flee with thousands of others in the dead of winter.  This is the story of how they walked and kept themselves safe from approaching Russian soldiers.

It is a heartwarming narrative, with a calm and steady tone that engages the reader and builds in intensity as the story unfolds.  You will be drawn into this tale of survival and its thought provoking and poignant exploration of the terrible impact of war on both sides of the fighting.  Michael Morpurgo also wrote War Horse, which was made into a film Directed by Steven Spielberg being released on Christmas day.

And another inspiration for this lovely book was of course the elephants themselves.  If you love elephants (like I do), you may be interested in this link to another story about elephants during World War II--a very sad story indeed--and this link to one of my all time favorite books about elephants, that I discovered in a used bookstore in Chicago many years ago. 

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