Monday, August 27, 2018

MMGM- Elephant Secret

It's Cybils' season again! The call for judges is up HERE, so check it out! I'll be stepping away from the Middle Grade Fiction division, but the absolutely fantastic Alex Baugh will be taking my place. It's always a fun and informative experience to be part of this award process, and it's a great excuse to read lots and lots of books! 

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Walters, Eric. Elephant Secret
August 28th 2018 by Clarion Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Sam and her father run an elephant sanctuary. This takes a lot of acreage, so they're outside of town, and dealing with the elephants is SO Much easier than dealing with her friends in middle school. It's not an easy life, and she and her father make lots of sacrifices, but it's worth it to protect their herd of sometimes fragile, enormous animals! Their newest addition is Burma, who has a violent past and must be separated from the herd, and they are also dealing with the impending delivery of Daisy Mae's baby. Sam manages to get to a middle school dance with the help of Joyce, her dad's girlfriend, only to have Daisy Mae go into labor. Things look very grim until extra veterinarians, sent by the sanctuary's mysterious patron, arrive to help, and even then, they can only save the baby. Sam is sad about Daisy Mae, but understands that sometimes not everyone can be saved, and devotes herself to the baby, whom she names Wooly, feeling a kinship with her since Sam's own mother died shortly after she was born. Wooly is a rather odd looking elephant, but when James Mercury, their patron, arrives to tell them a big secret. Mercury is a brilliant but quirky scientist who has a LOT of money, and to guard his secret, he is willing to invest heavily in the sanctuary. This is great, since Sam's dad also works at a local diner to make ends meet, but the money eventually comes at a devastating price. Mercury buys Sam and her father out... for nine million dollars, with the disheartening provision that they can't have anything to do with the elephants. Crushed but realistic, they make plans for a new sanctuary, but Sam and her expertise with elephants might be even more valuable than all of Mercury's money.
Strengths: Wow. So much to like here. Tons of information on large animal veterinary science, science related intrigue, a challenging but upbeat and positive father-daughter relationship with the best paternal girlfriend EVER (seriously, I loved Joyce so much she could have her own paragraph!), and all beautifully written by Walters, who has written a ton of books published in Canada that we in the states are being denied. He also wrote the fantastic The Rule of 3 series and Rebound, so his range is really amazing. I've read a number of books involving elephants, and it's an intriguing subject, but the others have been so utterly depressing that I haven't bought them.
Weaknesses: The publisher's description has a huge spoiler, so don't look at it.
What I really think: This was brilliant and I can't wait to hand it to my students!

Ms. Yingling


  1. My uncle was a large animal vet so I must read this one. The cover alone should attract a lot of readers.

  2. The book sounds wonderful, Karen. I like the idea of animal knowledge included.

  3. I've heard such good things about Elephant Secret. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for sharing more details!

  4. I sometimes think that Eric Walters must secretly be a robot - he's just so incredibly prolific!!

  5. Your review has me interested in this book and I will try to avoid the book flap summary.

  6. I'm always excited by a new Eric Walter's book. Thanks for reviewing this. I had it on my Goodreads list, but this motivated me to see if I could find a copy, and hurrah, I have.