A Circle of Elephants: A Companion Novel
By Eric Dinerstein
Format: Hardcover, 288 pp; illus, maps
Age Range: 8-12 years
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (January 22, 2019)
Thirteen-year-old Nanda Singh, the youngest elephant driver in Nepal, enjoys a very special relationship with his tusker, Hira Prashad, through which he grows in understanding and compassion with all animals, including humans
From the author of What Elephants Know, a 2017 ALA Notable Children’s Book and winner of the 2017 South Asia Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, comes this stunning companion novel about the complex relationship between people and nature coexisting in the Borderlands of 1970s Nepal. Dinerstein’s poetic prose and scientific expertise come together in this breathtaking tale that transports the reader to the center of dangerous conflicts and heartbreaking friendships.
From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—This companion novel to What Elephants Know takes place in the Borderlands of 1970s Nepal. In the new Royal Elephant Breeding Center, 13-year-old Nandu lives with his adoptive father. Nandu and Hira Prasad, the center’s powerful bull elephant, forge a bond when they experience an earthquake together. This moment sparks an emotional journey for Nandu as he comes to grips with the reality of the time and place: animal poaching. Nandu, the narrator, is able to relate to the characters in the story on a deep level, having experienced loss among his people and the animals that surround him. Powerful messages resonate throughout the novel, including kindness, empathy, and harmony among individuals practicing different faiths. These messages authentically come through in the actions and deeds of the main characters’ and their responses to some of the difficult events of the novel. The author deftly weaves his scientific knowledge with gentle prose to create a heartfelt tale. A glossary of important terms is a helpful reference for readers. VERDICT: Highly recommended and a must-buy where there are fans of What Elephants Know.—Selene Athas, Director of Libraries, Roland Park Country School
It is such a refreshing journey into another elephant world, very special to Asia, indeed Nepal, resonant with an afterglow of Mowgli, and Eric Dinerstein’s own deep feelings about the jungle, and the people and the wildlife that live there.—Iain Douglas-Hamilton, DPhil, CBE, founder, Save the Elephants, and coauthor of Among the Elephants
Just over two years ago I read and reviewed What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein. It was a tremendously beautiful novel. Now Dinerstein is back with a follow-up, A Circle of Elephants.
Thirteen-year-old Nandu works for the Royal Elephant Breeding Center, a newly established program that houses and protects the royal elephants. The center in on the edge of the jungle, which is good for the elephants to have some native land nearby. But even with the protection of Nandu and the others at the Royal Elephant Breeding Center, the animals and humans alike will be challenged by nature and by men.
Poachers are getting more and more bold, killing rhinos and elephants in the area for their tusks, and even the Royal breed are potential targets for these men without morals. Among these men is a poacher with a personal score to settle with Nandu for the trouble he caused earlier (in the previous book).
As before, Dinerstein’s writing is so natural and casual that it is easy to forget that this is a work of fiction and not an actual journal of events. We can’t help but fall in love with the elephants and wilderness that Nandu clearly cares for. And because we’re brought into the story so nicely we also feel the same fear and concern when the animals are in danger.
This book has just a bit more of a didactic feel to it, as if the goal were to make sure we understand the real dangers for the animals, rather than telling a story and letting us recognize those dangerous as we go. Even so, this is too beautiful a book to ignore and I would love to make sure that every middle school student reads the adventures of Nandu—the world couldn’t help but become a better place if youngster could be brought into a world like this.
An Awesome Book: Nandu is a thirteen-year-old elephant drive who lives in the Royal Elephant Breeding Center in the jungle. The King’s elephants in the compound are protected in the stable. Nandu and his friends at the center are tested when an earthquake hits Nepal, which the locals deem to be a bad omen. Nandu and his elephant, Hira Prasad, have an unbreakable bond but, becomes strained when a series of event upturn their lives. Will Hira Prasad and Nandu be able to keep their bond? Is the earthquake a sign for more evil to come?
This novel was one of the best novels I have read this year (yes, the year did just start). The author wrote the novel so beautifully, that I felt transported to Nepal being surrounded by lush foliage and being there with Nandu. I love how the characters felt so real because they were flawed people trying to do the best with what they have. Overall, I love this book.