Elephant Run by Roland Smith

 Grade Level: 7 – 8

Genre: Historical Fiction

Theme: Relationships, War, Survival

I’ve always been a fan of stories from other countries and other times.  This book is no exception.  I was drawn to the overtly stereotypical Burmese and Japanese characters, to the descriptive settings, and to the various personalities of the the elephants.  This made the read worthwhile, especially when I discovered the disappointing and predictable ending. 

Thankfully for my students, knowledge about 1940s history was not a requirement, and in fact, it was not a leading theme.  It is helpful, though, to recognize when students are open to reading about other ways of living, and when there is just not enough context to make the story interesting to them.  I was not surprised to see some students abandon the book.

For teachers, this book is full of rich symbolism, and provides much to talk about within a classroom setting.  The elephants, the bell, and the complex relationships are all great starting points.

ISBN 13: 978-1-4231-0402-5, 318 pp


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