Monday, August 20, 2012

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

Elizabeth's mother works at the Dresden zoo during World War II.  She has been involved with the care of a young elephant since its birth.  When the zoo is threatened by Allied bombing, Elizabeth's mom brings Marlene to their home to keep her safe.  But when Dresden is nearly leveled in an attack the family, including Marlene, must run to stay alive.  Traveling with an elephant is difficult enough but Elizabeth and her family are in real danger when they meet a Canadian soldier who also travels with them.  This book was inspired by the fact that zoo animals were killed in cities during the war to protect citizens in case the wild animals got loose.  While I love animal stories, I was unmoved by this one in part because it is told in flashback from an elderly narrator.  That fact also makes it unlikely to be of much interest to teen readers.  And the resolution at the end of the war was annoying and vague, in my opinion even though the fates of all involved were revealed by the narrator later.