Elephant child ISBN: 9780007128204
Published by Collins (Roaring Good Reads series), 2003
Set in the Bakuli National Park in Africa, this story tells us about Leo, whose English parents live in the Park as researchers into elephant tribes, and Shola, an orphan African child found by Leo's parents when lost and being protected by an elephant family. Shola becomes a sister to Leo, and they are very close. But when Leo's parents are killed in a plane crash, he is taken off to England to live with an aunt and uncle. He pines for Africa and Shola, and when his relatives become convinced he will never be happy in England, he is sent back to live with Elden, Paula and their son, Tatu, friends of his family. Shola is there too, but something strange has happened to her: she has become mute. Not only has she lost Leo's parents, whom she looked on as her own, but she has lost Leo as well, and the beloved elephants are being slaughtered by poachers. She and Leo are delighted to see each other, but Paula explains that Shola has a condition called aphonia, and while her speech may return one day, it may not. It does, dramatically, in a scene when Shola must save Leo from certain death - part of the very exciting adventure section of the story. In a happy ending, Leo and Shola are adopted by Tatu's parents, and the poachers are caught before they can kill any more elephants. A well-written, short book, with all the sights, sounds, and smells of Africa woven in.