Book Review: An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

The book with illustrations: An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo is inspired by true-event-sketches of World War – 2. After all the years passed, Lizzie, an elderly ailing German lady belonging to Dresden narrates the tale of her childhood from her nursing home bed. Her audience is a nine year old boy, Karl and his mother who is working in the nursing home.


The scenes are of Germany, 1945, when the Allied bombs attacked Germany in retaliation of Hitler's Nazi regime. The Germans were fleeing from their urban homes for safer countryside, and it was the same for Lizzie and her family. If that was hard enough, and now they were also trying to save a young elephant they had got out from the zoo.


Either way, the animal was not having much chance to survive because the zoo authorities were shooting the animals, and this was the moment when Lizzie's mother (who worked in the zoo) requested the zoo to set the elephant free for her to take care of it.


It was quite a situational challenge, and the author has done a marvelous job in explaining the whole plot. He has narrated the saga of courage, faith and love; the reader learns lessons on humanism and how mortals will get trapped in the curses of war.


Michel Morpurgo's style is swift and full of action, revealing the human character in the face of rift and violence, especially, due to the condition that Lizzie, her mother and brother are alone because the father has gone to fight on the war front.


Marlene – the elephant is described in all her facets, munching her hay and straw, drinking water from a passing river, surviving by her natural instinct. Peter – the Canadian who is lost and found by Lizzie and her family in the German war zone while he was fighting against the Germans, all of this and other details of the book keep the reader very well interested in the storyline.


Michael Morpurgo wrote a stirring book: War Horse, whose story is told from the animal's point of view. It is Joey – the brave horse who describes the turmoils of war. Another fine reading.


Michael Morpurgo is an English author, poet, playwright who is known best for children's novels. His other works are: Private Peaceful (2003), Kensuke's Kingdom (1999). War Horse was written in 1982.


An Elephant in the Garden is illustrated by Michael Foreman. It is published by HarperCollins Children's Books.


According to Mal Pete of Guardian, "Michael Morpurgo is a literary landmark, a national treasure."


The diarist enjoyed the opportunity of reading An Elephant In The Garden from her granddaughter’s collection of books.

Geeta Chhabra

Geeta Chhabra Comment Form
Form a link. Comment inside the box below. Your views will be published in a coming edition.