The Elephant in the Room

by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

From the New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s comes a heartfelt story about the importance of compassion and bravery when facing life's challenges" (Kirkus) for fans of The One and Only Ivan and Front Desk.

It's been almost a year since Sila's mother traveled halfway around the world to Turkey, hoping to secure the immigration paperwork that would allow her to return to her family in the United States.

The long separation is almost impossible for Sila to withstand. But things change when Sila accompanies her father (who is a mechanic) outside their Oregon town to fix a truck. There, behind an enormous stone wall, she meets a grandfatherly man who only months before won the state lottery. Their new alliance leads to the rescue of a circus elephant named Veda, and then to a friendship with an unusual boy named Mateo, proving that comfort and hope come in the most unlikely of places.

A moving story of family separation and the importance of the connection between animals and humans, this novel has the enormous heart and uplifting humor that readers have come to expect from the beloved author of Counting by 7s.


Kirkus Reviews

Accessibly captures the human impact of harsh immigration laws and the power of connection. (Fiction. 9-14)

Publishers Weekly

Book and animal lover Sila Tekin finds hope, joy, and friendship when Veda, a traumatized circus elephant, enters her life. After an immigration issue arises for the sixth grader's mother, her planned eight-day trip from Oregon to Turkey becomes an eight-month separation for the family. Sila misses her mother desperately, withdrawing at school and with her Kurdish father, a mechanic who moved to America to seek political asylum. When Sila accompanies her father to work one day, she befriends Gio Gardino, an elderly widower and lottery winner who purchases Veda from a defunct circus troupe that passes through their town. With the help of new friend Mateo Lopez, an autistic Mexican American classmate, Sila cares for Veda and fights to reunite her with her mother; the girl also begins to come out of her shell and feel hope again. Though the final chapters rush to an implausibly tidy end, Sloan (To Night Owl from Dogfish) fully builds the emotional interiors of each character, including Veda. This heartfelt tale thoughtfully conveys the agony of family separation, the beauty of nature, and the power of friendship to overcome tremendous difficulties. Ages 10-up. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Mar.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Using multiple narrative perspectives, [Goldberg Sloan] touches on many weighty topics (grief, autism, deportation, animal cruelty), handling each with sensitivity. —Booklist

Sloan captures the importance of compassion and bravery when facing life's challenges . . . themes of collectivity and community in the face of isolation and stigma are brought to the surface and themselves offer depth to this heartfelt and sincere story. —Kirkus

Sloan (To Night Owl from Dogfish) fully builds the emotional interiors of each character, including Veda. This heartfelt tale thoughtfully conveys the agony of family separation, the beauty of nature, and the power of friendship to overcome tremendous difficulties. —Publishers Weekly

"A gorgeous and emotional novel. I loved every page."—Cynthia Kadohata, Newbery Medal-winning author of Kira-Kira

Holly Goldberg Sloan
Holly Goldberg Sloan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and spent her childhood living in Holland; Istanbul, Turkey; Washington, D.C.; Berkeley, California; and Eugene, Oregon. After graduating from Wellesley College, she began writing family feature films, including Angels in the Outfield and Made in America. Her first middle-grade novel, Counting by 7s, is a New York Times bestseller. Holly lives with her husband in Santa Monica, California.
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9780735229945
Lexile Measure
N/A
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
March 20, 2021
Series
-

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!