I do not ever want to have a bear! What a great description of what caring for these animals would be like. It was great that Sila was always interested in animals, and Gino was able to fulfill her wishes and also provide himself with a much needed sense of purpose. Dealing with the elephant poop is quite a challenge, and Sila and Mateo are up to it, with some help from workers that Gino hires. The details of immigration problems are explained in a way that middle grade readers can understand, and will hopefully make them more sympathetic to people who have run into difficulty. Sila's sadness is profound, but she still tries to find a way to go on. The scenes with the school personnel trying to set up her mentorship with Mateo are realistically awkward, and Mateo's mom is great. I needed a happy ending when I read this, and my students will also appreciate this.
It would be great to have books about immigration from #ownvoices authors, although Sloan has clearly done her research. These are so many gradations on the autism spectrum that this seemed realistic to me, but many people would rather see an #ownvoices story. I am fine with a well researched book by any type of author as long as the treatment is sympathetic.
I was immediately invested in Sila and Gino, and thought the realities of having an elephant were well portrayed. The story is very neatly plotted, and things work out a little TOO well, but considering the troubles we see in the world right now, I found it a huge relief to read an upbeat novel where everything ended happily. I can't think of too many books that deal with a wild animal sanctuary, although Eric Walters' Elephant Secret does at the beginning of the book.