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First Initial (Overall Rating):
E = Exceptional
VG = Very Good
G = Good
F = Fair
NR = Not Recommended

Second Initital (Reading Level):
A = Average Reading Level
E = Easy
M = Mature

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Monday, April 2, 2012

An Elephant in the Garden

Middle school fiction

G/A Morpurgo, Michael. An elephant in the garden. Feiwel and Friends, 2010. 199p. 978-0-312-59369-8. $16.99

Lizzie is a nursing home patient, and she likes to keep to herself, until she meets Karl, the son of one of her nurses. Karl’s cheerful energy reminds Lizzie of her younger brother, Karli, and the two become friends. Soon, Lizzie is reminiscing about her youth in Dresden during WWII, and the time when her family kept an elephant in their garden.

Lizzie and Karl’s mother (Mutti) was a zookeeper, and she most loved taking care of an orphan elephant, named Marlene. As part of the city’s preparation for wartime bombing, the zoo planned to destroy its largest animals, so as to keep the city safe from a possible stampede. But Mutti persuaded the officials that Marlene would be safest with her. When the bombing comes to Dresden, Marlene gets scared and runs away. Karl goes chasing after Marlene, and Lizzie and Mutti chase after Karl. This saves their lives, but now they must flee the city as refugees, trying to avoid soldiers of both sides. Marlene ends up being much more of a help than hindrance.

Despite dire circumstances, this is a warm story of family and survival. Inspired by true events.
Anjelique Granados, CoLAPL-Angelo M. Iacoboni Library

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