The Elephant in the Room

Featured
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
571 0
The Elephant in the Room
Age Range
8+
Release Date
March 02, 2021
ISBN
978-0735229945
Buy This Book
      
It's been almost a year since Sila's mother traveled halfway around the world to Turkey, hoping to secure the immigration paperwork that would allow her to return to her family in the United States.

The long separation is almost impossible for Sila to withstand. But things change when Sila accompanies her father (who is a mechanic) outside their Oregon town to fix a truck. There, behind an enormous stone wall, she meets a grandfatherly man who only months before won the state lottery. Their new alliance leads to the rescue of a circus elephant named Veda, and then to a friendship with an unusual boy named Mateo, proving that comfort and hope come in the most unlikely of places.

A moving story of family separation and the importance of the connection between animals and humans, this novel has the enormous heart and uplifting humor that readers have come to expect from the beloved author of Counting by 7s.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

So Many Topics!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Sila's family has been happy in Oregon, even though her father, who is a mechanical engineer, has to work as a mechanic, and her mother is a cleaner in a hotel. The parents left Turkey because of political prosecution. After her mother found out that the women where she worked made far less than the men, she was fired, and immigration services told her that her paperwork was not in order and that she would need to go back to Turkey to get the proper forms so that she didn't get deported. That was months ago, and Sila is struggling without her mother. She has disengaged from her friends, and just tries to help her father around the apartment to lessen his feeling of loss. When her father is called out to a farm to fix a truck, the two meet Gino. He was one of a group of workers who played the lottery and won, so he has moved to a vast property completely surrounded by a stone wall. His wife was Sila's second grade teacher, and died of cancer four years previously. The three feel a connection, and meet on the morning of Gino's birthday to have doughnuts. While there, circus members arrive. Gino buys the group doughnuts, and Sila is able to see a real live elephant. The circus is disbanding, and the wily owner sees an opportunity in Gino. Before we know it, Gino has bought the elephant, Veda, and much of its equipment. A grumpy bear is even thrown in as a lagniappe. After a rocky start (both animals have been cooped up and underfed), Gino sends the bear to a refuge and starts to make his farm more elephant friendly. Sila and her dad visit, and she is thrilled. Things are still rough at school, and Sila has been placed in a mentoring program, partnered with Mateo, who is on the autism spectrum. Mateo was very chatty until third grade, and is now very quiet. At first, the two just sit together and read, but when Gino invites Sila to bring a friend to see Veda, she invites Mateo. His mother is okay with it, but does send lunch with him. Mateo and Sila both enjoy seeing the elephant, and working with Gino, and soon have a plan for the summer which involves helping to care for the animal. When Mateo's mother, a lawyer, finds out about Sila's mother's problems, she offers to help. Will Sila be able to make things better for not only Veda, but Mateo, her mother, and herself?
Good Points
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.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

You Are Fantastic!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
From Hello!Lucky, the creators of My Mom Is Magical! and...
Early One Morning
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Join a little boy searching the farm for his breakfast...
Little Sap: The Magical Story of a Little Forest Family
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
A little tree, guided by her family circle and forest...
The Little Things: A Story about Acts of Kindness
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
One girl’s simple act of kindness causes ripples in her...
The Cruelest Mercy (The Kinder Poison, #2)
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
In this sequel to The Kinder Poison—which People magazine proclaimed...
The City Beautiful
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Death lurks around every corner in this unforgettable Jewish historical...
The Shape of Thunder
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Cora hasn’t spoken to her best friend, Quinn, in a...
Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A lyrical and heartfelt collection by an award-winning writer that...
The Republic of Birds
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A young witch must save her sister from evil birds...
Fearless
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Better Nate than Ever meets Love Sugar Magic in this...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
"It was a test, you fool,” she sneered, “to see...
Ducks on the Road: A Counting Adventure
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
From Caldecott Honor artist Anita Lobel comes a touching and...
Sloth and Smell the Roses
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A playful board book about the pillars of mindfulness from...
Curious About Insects
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for the littlest bug buffs, this board book offers...
The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious, #4)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
After solving the case of Truly Devious, Stevie Bell...
Simone Breaks All the Rules
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for fans of You Should See Me in...

Latest Member Reviews

The Cruelest Mercy (The Kinder Poison, #2)
 
4.7
"THE CRUELEST MERCY is an intriguing second book in an enthralling YA fantasy series. After the rush and danger of..."
Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty, #1)
 
4.0
"What worked: This was a fun take on Crazy Rich Asians meets descendants of Empress Regent of China. Gemma..."
The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious, #4)
 
5.0
"THE BOX IN THE WOODS is a fantastic continuation of Stevie's story with a whole new cold case to solve...."
 
4.7
"Miles "Pudge" Halter seeks for a "Great Perhaps", and attends Culver Creek, a boarding school. Yet, he finds himself with..."
 
5.0
"To say that this book was one of my most anticipated releases for 2021 is an understatement. After the impact..."
 
5.0
"Oh my goodness what a way to end this series! I honestly took a little longer to finish this book..."
 
5.0
"I absolutely loved this sequel. The first one was such a good set up for this book. Nita is free..."
Not Even Bones
 
4.3
"So, this book was not what I was expecting it to be. First, it takes place in the real world...."
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet
 
5.0
"What worked: I loved this engaging, heart-felt story with one strong Chicanx protagonist. Think I'M NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER..."
All our Hidden Gifts
 
4.3
"ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS was a riveting and darkly captivating YA fantasy/thriller/horror read. Maeve is a teen girl and not..."
The Lost Girls
 
5.0
KM kathy melnick
"BEST URGENT EFFECTIVE LOVE SPELL TO GET YOUR EX/WIFE/HUSBAND BACK FAST AND TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE NOW CONTACT LORD..."
The Outsiders
 
5.0
KM kathy melnick
"BEST URGENT EFFECTIVE LOVE SPELL TO GET YOUR EX/WIFE/HUSBAND BACK FAST AND TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE NOW CONTACT LORD..."
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)
 
5.0
KM kathy melnick
"BEST URGENT EFFECTIVE LOVE SPELL TO GET YOUR EX/WIFE/HUSBAND BACK FAST AND TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE NOW CONTACT LORD..."
Twilight (Twilight #1)
 
5.0
KM kathy melnick
"BEST URGENT EFFECTIVE LOVE SPELL TO GET YOUR EX/WIFE/HUSBAND BACK FAST AND TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE NOW CONTACT LORD..."
 
5.0
KM kathy melnick
"BEST URGENT EFFECTIVE LOVE SPELL TO GET YOUR EX/WIFE/HUSBAND BACK FAST AND TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE NOW CONTACT LORD..."
For the Wolf (The Wilderwood, #1)
 
4.7
"FOR THE WOLF is a captivating fantasy read that sweeps the reader away to the Wilderwood. Redarys (Red) is the..."
Simone Breaks All the Rules
 
4.7
"Simone's Haitian immigrant parents are very strict; she and her sister Anne have to go to an all girls school..."
Chasing Lucky
 
4.3
"Josie Saint-Martin and her mother have lived an itinerant lifestyle ever since they left the small Rhode Island seaside town..."
Curse of the Specter Queen
 
4.7
"Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke is Indiana Jones meets The Mummy (1999) and encompasses everything I..."
The Heartbreak Bakery
 
4.7
"Seventeen-year-old agender Syd loves baking, but when her brownies set off a string of breakups-including her own-she comes up with..."