Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tua and the elephant by R. P. Harris, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

Tua is exploring the market in her town, Chiang Ma, Thailand, when she meets a very special friend; an elephant. She rescues Pohn-Pohn from her cruel mahouts and the two set off together on a delightful journey, full of adventure and excitement, looking for a safe home for Pohn-Pohn.

This is a beautiful little book, not just in the sun-drenched pictures of Taeeun Yoo, but in the whole design. The purple and gold motif is spread throughout the pages, including the deep purple font and the small designs on each page. Yoo's illustrations show the cheeky Tua, her new friend Pohn-Pohn, and the friends and enemies she encounters on their marvelous journey, with an affectionate warmth.

The Thai words sprinkled throughout the text are generally easy to understand from the context, but I would still like to have had a glossary - and a pronunciation guide. The story ends rather neatly and there are a few places where the story leans towards infodump, but on the whole this is a wonderful debut story.

Verdict: Fans of Kate Dicamillo will enjoy the combination of dreamy storytelling and lightly fantastic journey similar to The Tale of Despereaux. The story is compact, just about 200 pages, and perfect for the younger side of middle grade. Hand it to kids who like gentle adventures, parents looking for a good read-aloud (see, pronunciation guide needed!) and those who like animal friendship stories.

ISBN: 9780811877817; Published 2012 by Chronicle Books; Borrowed from the library; Added to the library's wishlist

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