Reviews for Elephant Run
Booklist Reviews 2008 February #2
At the height of the London blitz, Nick's mother sends him to join his father on the family's remote, ancestral timber plantation in Burma. Her gambit turns out badly: The invading Japanese soon seize the plantation, imprisoning his father in a brutal POW camp, and leaving 13-year-old Nick to endure hardship under Japanese overseers (whose characterizations are less complex than those of the diverse Burmese). As readers will expect from suspense-specialist Smith, Nick faces exciting situations (including several weeks in the estate's secret catacombs), and details of Burmese politics, spirituality, and daily life weave an alluring backdrop. Some readers, however, may feel disoriented by Smith's fragmented storytelling style, in which momentum often seems to consolidate around one character or plot development only to move suddenly in an entirely new direction. Still, this offering's unusual setting deserves attention from historical fiction fans, who will appreciate the window on a rarely discussed theater of World War II. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
Nick is sent to live with his father in Burma to escape the 1941 London bombings. Instead of safety, Nick finds himself separated from his father in the midst of the Japanese invasion. Accompanied by new friend Mya and her beloved elephants, he plots a rescue. Appealing characters and fascinating historical context drive this adventure to a disappointingly tidy conclusion. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 September #1
It's out of the frying pan and into the fire for 14-year-old Nick Freestone, as he is sent out of London during the Blitz only to arrive at his father's teak plantation in Burma right before the Japanese invade. When his father is taken prisoner and hauled off to a prisoner-of-war camp and the plantation is taken over by the Japanese, Nick eventually escapes and reunites with his father with the help of an ancient Buddhist monk, a beautiful, smart girl named Mya, a Burmese Robin Hood, a rampaging bull elephant and various people resisting the Japanese occupation. It's the thrilling adventure tale Smith is known for, strong on plot and setting, and though the beginning is an uneasy mix of story and information, the tale soon rolls. Adult readers will be reminded of The Bridge on the River Kwai, as the threats of the steamy jungle and the brutality of enemy soldiers are twin complications in a country at war. An adventure tale that is also a family story--as is Smith's other 2007 title, Peak. (Fiction. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2008 January
This novel is a tightly written, fast-paced adventure of World War II. Adolescent Nick's sanctuary on his father's Burmese teak plantation is disrupted by the Japanese invasion. When the plantation is commandeered by the Japanese military and his father taken to a forced labor camp, Nick decides to try to rescue his father. Eluding the Japanese is not the only difficulty he faces. The jungle, vast distances traveled by elephant, and conflicting attitudes of the Burmese people all make his ordeal more dangerous and unlikely to succeed. Along the way, he is helped by interesting characters, including an elderly, mysterious Buddhist monk who talks to elephants; a kind-hearted Japanese soldier who teaches him haiku; elephants and the handlers who train and work them; a freedom fighter with a Robin Hood reputation, and a Burmese girl who will become his romantic interest. The ending may be predictable, but there are several intriguing twists, turns, and subplots along the way. Students will get to experience the Japanese mistreatment of conquered peoples; the training and work of elephants as draft animals; Japanese gardening; and haiku. The novel, its subject, and adventure will hold readers' interest. Recommended. Ron Marinucci, Instructor of History, Oakland and Mott Community Colleges, Michigan © 2008 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 January
Gr 5-7-- As German bombs fall on London, 14-year-old Nick is sent to Burma to live with his British father on their teak plantation. Unforeseen in this plan is the impending invasion that puts them, along with the locals, under Japanese rule. Nick is forced to work on the plantation for the brutal commanders and his father is placed in a labor camp. The boy's predicament escalates as his trust in the Burmese employees who once worked for his father is challenged by their newfound loyalty to the Japanese. Escape through the jungle, with the help of a well-respected monk and great-grandfather to the boy's new friend Mya, is the only way out. This novel is filled with intrigue, danger, surprising plot twists, and suspense. It's a well-developed historical adventure with villains and heroes that describes aspects of British colonization, forced occupation, and World War II.--Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI [Page 126]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2007 December
It is 1941, and with German bombs raining down on London, Nick Freestone is sent to his father's teak plantation in Burma. By the time Nick arrives in Southeast Asia, however, Japanese troops have invaded. Nick's father is taken as a prisoner-of-war, leaving the boy with a difficult choice. If he cooperates with the Japanese, he may be able to stay out of trouble. But he would remain under house arrest for the duration of the war, and he would not be able to help his father or his pretty friend, Mya, who has attracted unwelcome attention from the invaders and their Burmese collaborators. Nick takes the riskier course, escaping with Mya and then attempting to rescue his father from a grim prisoner camp. The teens find powerful allies, including an enigmatic Buddhist monk and some invaluable trained elephants whose mahouts (riders) are not fond of the Japanese invaders. Both the historical setting and the elephant lore are handled well by Smith, a former zookeeper whose fiction is noted for its authoritative treatment of animal themes. Surprisingly the most complex characters in the novel are a Japanese officer and a sergeant, both of whom are caught between their country's harsh martial culture and their own genuine humanity. The plot is rushed to a tidy conclusion with the help of some improbable coincidences, but right up to the end it is a compelling page-turner filled with danger and excitement in a vividly described steamy jungle environment.-Walter Hogan 3Q 4P M J Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.