We're ba-aack! Boise (and McCall) were beautiful, and we even had snow for spring break. (Bet you've never seen a dozen mafiosi pelting each other with snowballs.) However, I have missed you all. I managed to sneak reading Tua and the Elephant in between my latest addiction, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice--but that's definitely not middle grade, so you won't be hearing my thoughts about it here.
Tua, however, is a wonderful middle grade tale. Those of you who follow me closely know that I'm a complete sucker for stories in foreign lands. Thailand's a great place, and Tua's stomping ground is the city of Chiang Mai, which I remember as being very lovely.
Why I liked it: Spunky main character. Tua means "peanut" in Thai, and 9 year-old Tua's pretty petite, but there's nothing small about this girl's spirit. In the market one day, Tua sees an elephant being mistreated by two villainous mahout (elephant handlers). She helps it to escape, names it Pohn-Pohn, and sets off to find an elephant sanctuary where Pohn-Pohn will be safe. I also really liked Tua's glamourous actress aunt, Auntie Orchid, who vamped it with the best of them. And the illustrations by Taeeun Yoo are great too. (Don't you just love the shimmering light of the cover art?)
The book is aimed at 8-12 year-olds, and I think they will love the simplicity of the story as it explores profound themes about the cruel treatment of animals, and elephants in particular. (This may well be the Year of the Elephant, as an elephant features prominently in The One and Only Ivan--see my MMGM review here--as well as Lynne Kelly's Chained, the trailer of which I posted on Project Mayhem.)
About the author: R.P. Harris has spent much time in Asia, including three months in Thailand. He divides his time between San Francisco and Shanghai.
About the illustrator: Taeeun Yoo has illustrated numerous books for children, including the New York Times Best Illustrated Book, Only a Witch Can Fly. She lives in New York City.
I have a copy of Tua and the Elephant to give to one lucky commenter. (Tweeting about the giveaway, mentioning @MGMafioso, will earn you an extra entry.)
And have a very Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. Please visit the other MMGMers (they are listed in my blog sidebar.)