One Amazing Elephant

One Amazing Elephant
Age Range
Release Date
February 14, 2017
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A poignant middle grade animal story from talented author Linda Oatman High that will appeal to fans of Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. In this heartwarming novel, a girl and an elephant face the same devastating loss—and slowly realize that they share the same powerful love.

Twelve-year-old Lily Pruitt loves her grandparents, but she doesn’t love the circus—and the circus is their life. She’s perfectly happy to stay with her father, away from her neglectful mother and her grandfather’s beloved elephant, Queenie Grace.

Then Grandpa Bill dies, and both Lily and Queenie Grace are devastated. When Lily travels to Florida for the funeral, she keeps her distance from the elephant. But the two are mourning the same man—and form a bond born of loss. And when Queenie Grace faces danger, Lily must come up with a plan to help save her friend.

Editor review

1 review
A book for animal-loving middle grade readers
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
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Lily Rose Pruitt loves her grandparents, Bill and Violet, though she doesn’t see them as much as she would like because they work for a traveling circus. Bill is “Bill the Giant”—he’s 7’ 5” tall—and he’s also the trainer (or mahout) of Queenie Grace, an elephant. Violet is only 4’ 9” tall, so she’s one of the “freaks” at the circus too. Lily’s mom, Trullia, is the “Girl on the Flying Trapeze.” Despite the appeal that having family members involved in the circus might have for most pre-teens, Lily lives a quiet life with her dad in West Virginia. In fact, she's understandably hurt by her mom’s decision to leave her husband and daughter and return to the circus when Lily was just three years old.

Bill the Giant and Queenie Grace love each other, but their bond doesn’t spill over to encompass Lily—she’s terrified of the elephant. However, Lily and Queenie Grace share a common grief when Grandpa Bill dies, and ONE AMAZING ELEPHANT is the story of how they deal with the challenges that come with grieving, learning to trust, navigating transitions, and dealing with loss.

ONE AMAZING ELEPHANT is told through alternating perspectives, and readers get inside the minds of both Lily and Queenie Grace. Using this vehicle, Linda Oatman High does a nice job of quickly establishing the back story for Lily and Queenie Grace so that the present-day action can propel the novel through its twists and turns.

Lily and Queenie Grace go through a lot together in a very short time. ONE AMAZING ELEPHANT has interesting characters (many are circus workers, after all!), and there’s so much going on that you don’t want to stop turning pages. There are bad guys, new friends, healing of old hurts, and a lot to learn, and I like that the book shows that the word “family” should never have a narrow definition.

ONE AMAZING ELEPHANT is interesting, different, and certain to appeal to middle grade readers. My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Good Points
Expands the definition of family

Certain to appeal for animal-loving middle school readers
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