FeaturedMiddle Grade

Elephant and Bird


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One of the best middle grade books I have read in a long time! Elephant and bird is a poignant and impressive debut novel.

Roberta is eleven years old and growing up with her Nana in the town of Plymouth New Hampshire. Everyone knows her by her nickname Bird but in her town she is sometimes treated like a bit of an outcast because she lives in an old Victoria manor house that serves to take in rebel patients that aren't fitting in well at the local nursing home.

As summer comes, Bird feels lonely and sad. Her mother has passed away from cancer and recently, her best friend (or at least the girl she thought was a best friend) has moved to California with her family. She has no one her age to hang out with, but she does have Mr. Briggs, one of their last remaining pensioners to keep her company.

Summer brings carnivals, and one day, a carnival stops in Plymouth with an elephant named Pearl. Bird is determined to go to the carnival to see the elephant, even if she has to sneak over when it is closed.

Pearl is lonely too. There are no other elephants in the carnival except for her, and fewer children are coming to visit with her because of an unfortunate accident. Pearl senses that the unfriendly carnival owner is planning to get rid of her, and her trainer is being asked more and more to take on other jobs. Pearl, the elephant, is sad. And so is Bird. Perhaps they can save each other?

I am so impressed with the writing style in this novel. It has a wonderful flow and is full of emotion. As you read, you really empathize with both Bird and Pearl. Both Bird and Pearl need to cope with and manage some difficult memories. I admit to a few tears at some points and worry that things were going to turn out okay (don't worry, they do!).

It's a great summer read, and I really enjoyed the setting of the novel. Having visited the town of Plymouth, New Hampshire, on holiday a few times in the past, I could easily picture it in my mind. Especially the big old Victorian houses.

If you are a fan of Kate Dicamillo's Because of Winn Dixie, Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan, and similar novels with animals, I am sure that you will enjoy this novel. I did.

Highly recommended!

Reviewed by

An avid reader since Grade school, I think there is nothing better than losing yourself in a good book. I've also taken on the role of finding great books for my niece and nephew to read so I pre-read quite a few middle grade and YA novels to find great books to inspire their love of reading.


About the author

My poems and illustrations have been published in various anthologies and I illustrated a historical fiction picture book Daniel Brown at the Battle of Lexington by Ellen W. Leroe. I graduated from Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH and received a BA in art. This is my first novel. view profile

Published on January 09, 2023

40000 words

Genre: Middle Grade

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