Peter Polo and the White Elephant of Lan Xang (Peter Polo Series #2)

Peter Polo and the White Elephant of Lan Xang (Peter Polo Series #2)
Publisher Name
Belle Isle Books
Age Range
Release Date
February 16, 2023
Peter Polo is off on another thrilling mission for the Great Khan! This time, Peter and his friends travel across the rivers, mountains, and cities of ancient China to the kingdom of Lan Xang, to try and stop a war over a rare white elephant. According to legend, whoever possesses the elephant will rule over all the Tai people-and the sinister King Naja, ruler of neighboring Lan Na, will stop at nothing to steal it.

Editor review

1 review
Fighting the power of superstition
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
Peter is the brother of Marco Polo and the book includes Chinese cultural, historical, and geographical information from the late 13th century. The characters move across ancient China and traverse mountains and rivers in the country. The Mekong River’s rocks and rapids allow the characters to quickly move through the country but the journey is treacherous. Princess Beki, daughter of the emperor Kublai Khan, accompanies Peter and his best friend Tariq recounting previous adventures, including climbing the Great Wall of China. The trio enjoys food delicacies along the way although Peter isn’t as enthusiastic when he discovers the secret meat in his soup. The end of the book adds more depth and context to the information mentioned in the story, including The Grand Canal (the oldest and longest manmade waterway in the world), bocce, Pi Mai, catapults, and the Park Ou Caves.
The plot moves swiftly as Peter and his friends try to prevent a war between neighboring kingdoms. A rare white elephant is found along their border and superstition says the kingdom where it’s found will rule over the other. King Channarong, or Naja as he’s called in most of the story, rules Lan Na and plans to invade and steal the elephant from King Lang and his people. The first half of the book describes the perilous, arduous journey to the city of Luang Prabang while the second half is devoted to rescuing hostages and stopping Naja. Peter’s cleverness and resourcefulness are the keys to resolving the problems with help from his friends.
Friendship and teamwork are important elements highlighted in the story. Peter and Tariq have been fast friends since they met in the first book while Beki has been wishing to participate in one of their adventures. Beki is royalty but she’s been stifled by her father’s over-protection. Beki hates the idea of being a pawn in her father’s politics with other kingdoms and it’s a source for Peter’s amusement as events unfold. There’s nothing the three friends won’t do for each other and they won’t hesitate to take risks if it means saving one of them from danger. Their close bonds and trust in each other are admirable qualities for young readers to experience.
What didn’t work as well:
While the plot moves quickly, the fast pace results in lapses in story development. Conflicts are created throughout but they’re resolved before building up the potential tension and suspense. The story is still engaging and entertaining so readers shouldn’t let missed opportunities stop them from reading it.
The Final Verdict:
This book is a quick read and it’s highly enjoyable and informative. The conflict between the kingdoms is identified and all of the subsequent events in the plot lead to resolving this problem. While the book doesn’t take advantage of chances to heighten the drama, the overall story can be enjoyed by lovers of adventure and Chinese history. I recommend you give it a shot.
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