cover image The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room

Holly Goldberg Sloan. Dial, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2994-5

Book and animal lover Sila Tekin finds hope, joy, and friendship when Veda, a traumatized circus elephant, enters her life. After an immigration issue arises for the sixth grader’s mother, her planned eight-day trip from Oregon to Turkey becomes an eight-month separation for the family. Sila misses her mother desperately, withdrawing at school and with her Kurdish father, a mechanic who moved to America to seek political asylum. When Sila accompanies her father to work one day, she befriends Gio Gardino, an elderly widower and lottery winner who purchases Veda from a defunct circus troupe that passes through their town. With the help of new friend Mateo Lopez, an autistic Mexican American classmate, Sila cares for Veda and fights to reunite her with her mother; the girl also begins to come out of her shell and feel hope again. Though the final chapters rush to an implausibly tidy end, Sloan (To Night Owl from Dogfish) fully builds the emotional interiors of each character, including Veda. This heartfelt tale thoughtfully conveys the agony of family separation, the beauty of nature, and the power of friendship to overcome tremendous difficulties. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Mar.) [/em]