An Elephant in the Garden

Michael Morpurgo. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-312-59369-8
Inspired by a true story about an elephant rescued from a Belfast zoo during WWII, acclaimed British author Morpurgo (War Horse) pens a historical novel about a German family's struggle to survive as their country is torn apart. The story within a story begins with Lizzie, an aging woman in a Canadian nursing home, telling her nurse and her nurse's nine-year-old son, Karl, that she had an elephant in her garden when she was a child. In 1945 Dresden, 16-year-old Lizzie's father is serving in the war, and her zookeeper mother decides to save an elephant named Marlene from the mercy killings exacted on other animals prior to the anticipated bombings. Marlene lives in their garden, walks on leashes, and stuns neighbors until the devastating bombing of Dresden forces Lizzie, her mother, and brother on an even more surprising journey across Germany seeking safety. Morpurgo crafts a thought-provoking and perilous encounter with an enemy combatant who joins their party and eventually forges a believable romance with Lizzie. The novel's clean prose delivers a gripping and unconventional perspective on the tumultuous era. Ages 10–14. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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