In a masterful blend of storytelling and scientific expertise, we meet Nandu, a 13-year-old Tibetan orphan who breeds and raises elephants for the King with his adopted family of animal handlers in 1970s Nepal.
Nandu and his “brother elephant,” Hira Prasad, navigate the dangers of poachers, kidnappers, and the wild jungle while trying to preserve the wildlife around them. Through their ordeals, Nandu begins to question his own relationship to Hira Prasad and the other elephants of his sanctuary.
Themes such as colonialism, preservation, and human trafficking are represented alongside the known interpersonal intelligence of elephants in the wild and in captivity in this story. While there are upsetting themes and realities represented, very few graphic details are included in this heartwarming and spiritual story that will captivate readers from middle school to adulthood.
This book is a companion to Dinerstein’s earlier work, What Elephants Know. I would highly recommend both titles for middle and high school libraries.
This review was originally published in the May/June 2019 issue of What’s Happening in NYC’s School Libraries published by the NYC DOE Office of Library Services.