The Elephant’s Girl
Crown Books for Young Readers
Published May 19, 2020
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About The Elephant’s Girl
An elephant never forgets…but Lexington Willow can’t remember her past. When she was a toddler, a tornado swept her away from everyone and everything she knew and landed her near an enclosure in a Nebraska zoo, where an elephant named Nyah protected her from the storm. With no trace of her family, Lex grew up at the zoo with her foster father, Roger; her best friend, Fisher; and the wind whispering in her ear.
Now that she’s twelve, Lex is finally old enough to help with the elephants. But during their first training session, Nyah sends her a telepathic image of the woods outside the zoo. Despite the wind’s protests, Lex decides to investigate Nyah’s message and gets wrapped up in an adventure involving ghosts, lost treasure, and a puzzle that might be the key to finding her family. Can Lex summon the courage to hunt for who she really is–and why the tornado brought her here all those years ago?
I think magical realism is one of the toughest genres to write well, because there’s always the risk that instead of seeing magic, a reader will see something else– hallucinations? Inconsistent plot or world?
Lex has a special relationship with the elephant Nyah, who protected her after the tornado left her at the zoo. Nyah sends her messages– pictures in her mind– and Lex tries to send pictures back.
Ever since the tornado, Lex has been able to hear the wind speaking to her, too. This was the most difficult element in the story for me to get into. I liked that it gave voice to Lex’s fears, making them a sort of personified antagonist. I wondered if it diluted the power of Nyah being able to speak to her, though.
I loved Lex’s relationship with Roger and her best friend, Fisher– all of her zoo family, really, but especially those two. As Lex tries to help Nyah find her family, it makes her examine her feelings about living with Roger at the zoo, too. He’s patient and clearly loves her, though he never pushes her to accept him as family. She also learns a lot through her friendship with Fisher, who is really different than she is. He’s outgoing and loves baseball. She learns how to be a good friend to him even when it means stepping out of her comfort zone or doing things for him.
On the whole, I thought this book was a really sweet story about found families. I liked the characters and the relationships between them. If you liked FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo, you’ll want to check out THE ELEPHANT’S GIRL.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Fisher’s grandmother is from Thailand.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Lex meets a ghost and promises to help her solve a mystery so she can move on.
Situation of peril and some descriptions of a tornado.
Note: I received a free copy of THE ELEPHANT’S GIRL in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.