by Eric Walters
Penguin Random House Canada
$21.99 (hc), 272 pp, ages 8 – 12
I don’t know where Eric Walters got his inspiration to write this novel, but I remember several years ago the epic news story of an ageing elephant being transported from the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo to an elephant sanctuary in the United States where it could live out its life. Walters’ 100th published book, Elephant Secret brings this memory to the fore. The novel relates the coming of age of Samantha Gray. As the daughter of a single parent, she learns to understand the difficult role her father has had in raising her as she undertakes the nurturing of a newborn elephant on the reserve owned and operated by her father. Throughout the novel, Samantha navigates the emotional tides of loss, empathy, understanding, acceptance, and love with regard to the elephants, her father’s girlfriend, and her own maturing from childhood into early adulthood.
Classroom Connections: Elephant Secret is a multilayered novel as one would expect from such a renowned writer as Walters. Used as a read-aloud, novel study or addition to the classroom library, this book may help students explore issues relating to their own maturation. As well, students will be able to expand their understanding of the importance of animals and the environment and to develop the empathy needed to become active participants in the protection of species.
Review by Kent Miller.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Spring 2019 issue.