Reviews for Tua and the Elephant

Booklist Reviews 2012 July #1
In this modern Thai adventure story, 10-year-old Tua meets an elephant as she wanders her neighborhood night market. She conspires to rescue the animal from its abusive mahouts, but setting an elephant free is simple compared with finding a safe place to hide it: "Kitchens with elephants in them are overcrowded rooms." On the advice of her aunt Orchid, Tua and Pohn-Pohn the elephant attempt to reach an elephant sanctuary and presumed safety. They encounter many adventures and new friends on their journey, always with the elephant's former owners in hot pursuit. The mahouts are drawn broadly, providing comic relief and keeping the tone light. Vivid descriptions, a heavy sprinkling of Thai words in the dialogue, and Yoo's evocative full-page art, keep the setting firmly in Thailand without feeling overtly educational or heavy-handed. Tua's generous nature and impetuous actions make her a spunky, endearing heroine. Hand this to fans of Kate DiCamillo, those looking for a glimpse of life in modern Asia, or anyone who enjoys a rollicking animal adventure story. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Tua, a go-getting Thai girl, goes to great lengths to save an elephant from its abusive owners. With her community's help, she repeatedly outsmarts the buffoonish duo until she finally gets the elephant to safety in an animal sanctuary. Warm, two-color linoleum block print illustrations accompany a sweet story that incorporates many details about Thai culture.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 March #1
How do you hide an elephant? Inspired by a trip to an Asian elephant refuge, Harris transports young readers to the lands of curry, banana leaves and the bustling Chiang Mai Night Market. Little 9-year-old Tua, which means "peanut" in Thai, finds a young, but very large captured elephant. Their connection is instant. But this elephant is chained, used as tourist bait. Tua must face dangers including poachers and treacherous rivers as she steals away with the young elephant, pursued by two menacing mahouts, or elephant drivers. Naming her new friend Pohn Pohn, Tua escapes with her to a Buddhist temple, where she learns of an elephant preserve in the mountains. Will Tua be successful in getting Pohn Pohn into the preserve? For a book aimed at middle graders, kudos on three fronts: providing a child's-eye view of Thailand with foreign words to be decoded in context, creating a strong connection between the elephant and the girl and using a simple vocabulary to introduce the complex issue of poaching. Yoo's multiple illustrations, done in charcoal and linoleum block prints, catapult the story even higher. Foreign yet familiar, the action is often humorous and reinforces the sweet bond between pachyderm and "peanut." A rousing adventure that introduces the issue of elephant trafficking in a gentle and appropriate way. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 April #1

Harris's debut, inspired by a trip to the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, follows nine-year-old Tua and her relationship with an abused elephant, Pohn-Pohn. Tua, whose mother is a hardworking waitress, lives an independent life in Chiang Mai, near a popular night market where she finds--and falls in love with--Pohn-Pohn. The elephant is under the charge of two thieving scoundrels and wordlessly begs Tua to help her escape. As quick-witted and adventurous as she is warmhearted, Tua undergoes hair-raising escapades to keep Pohn-Pohn out of the villains' grasp and find her a sanctuary. Engagingly filled with Thai vocabulary, food, and customs, and peopled by helpful family members, chums, and kind monks, the book maintains a quick, suspenseful pace. The final chapters wrap up the story a little too neatly, however, and border on an infomercial about the sanctuary for abused Asian elephants. Nonetheless, Harris's story, enlivened by Yoo's gently evocative woodcut illustrations in violet and mustard, avoids overt anthropomorphism of Pohn-Pohn while maintaining the sweet connection between elephant and girl. Ages 8-12. Illustrator's agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (May)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 June

Gr 3-6--Children will be smitten with Harris's endearing story about a tender friendship between a girl and the elephant whose life she is trying to save. Nine-year-old Tua (Peanut) lives with her mother in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a lively place where everyone seems to know and watch out for one another. One day at the bustling night market, she encounters an elephant being forcefully led by two sleazy con men who are masquerading as mahouts. Tua and the elephant connect and quickly forge a strong emotional bond. Determined to rescue her new friend from a horrific situation, she deftly sneaks her away from her captors. Navigating the crowded streets is no easy feat with an elephant in tow, but they eventually end up at the house of Tua's charismatic Auntie Orchid. Though sympathetic, she is unable to harbor the fugitive pachyderm and directs her niece to a Buddhist temple that has walls tall enough to hide the large animal. At the temple, Tua and the newly named Pohn-Pohn (Double-Happiness) are told that the best place for an elephant is a sanctuary run by a compassionate animal lover. Tua endeavors to get Pohn-Pohn to safety while avoiding the criminal mahouts, who have been pursuing them all along. Yoo's vibrant full-page illustrations, rendered in charcoal and linoleum-block printing, perfectly complement and elevate Harris's remarkable tale. A charming story sure to capture the hearts of young readers.--Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA

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