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|What elephants know|
Author: Dinerstein, Eric
In the threatened jungle of the Borderlands between Nepal and India during the 1970s, an orphaned boy discovers his fate as a great elephant driver.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.60
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 181901
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 5.20
Points: 15.0 Quiz: 68702
School Library Journal (00/02/16)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/01/2016 Through the eyes of 12-year-old Nandu, a hero worthy of The Jungle Book’s Mowgli, naturalist Dinerstein brings to life his knowledge of the Nepalese jungle. Abandoned as a toddler in the jungle, Nandu is taken in by the one-armed head of an elephant stable and raised under the watchful eye of Devi Kali, a female elephant. Nandu, who loves the jungle and its inhabitants, wants to be a mahout, or elephant trainer, but with the king’s government threatening to close the stable, his entire future is in jeopardy. A bull elephant would elevate them to a breeding stable, saving them from the closure, and Nandu, always an outsider because of the mysterious circumstances of his birth, is determined to find one and be a hero. Poetic and old-fashioned (in a good way), this coming-of-age story features a resourceful hero and a little-seen world. Dinerstein, who has lived in Nepal himself, beautifully recreates the lush, dramatically populated world of the Nepalese borderlands. Touching and unique. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2016 Gr 4–7—Abandoned in the Nepalese Borderlands, two-year-old Nandu is cared for by a pack of dholi, Asiatic wild dogs, until he is brought to the king's elephant stable. There, Subba-sahib, the stable's head, and Devi Kali, a nurturing elephant, become his de facto parents. Even though he's young, Nandu longs to become a mahout, an entry-level driver; however, when the stable's very existence is threatened, Nandu is sent to boarding school to learn skills that might help the stable survive. Father Autry becomes his mentor, helping him develop an even greater appreciation for the jungle. Despite corrupt government officials, marauding Maroons, and cheating elephant traders, Nandu's fierce determination prevails. Dedicated to "elephant lovers everywhere," the novel is set in a land where survival is dependent upon a respect for both the intelligence and potential danger of animals as well as on the use of one's wits. As with all coming-of-age tales, the protagonist's maturity comes at the cost of many hard lessons. He is a fully developed character, and the portraits of Father Autry and Subba-sahib are equally well drawn. While the dialogue seems a bit stilted at times, it is consistent with the formality of this culture, and it serves the story's rhythm. A small glossary aids comprehension of both the Nepalese and elephant trainer's terminology. VERDICT A solid choice with good values and themes that will engender discussion.—Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.