By Lynne Kelly
Farrar Straus Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374312374, 248pp.
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
After ten-year-old Hastin's family borrows money to pay for his sister's hospital bill, he leaves his village in northern India to take a job as an elephant keeper and work off the debt. He thinks it will be an adventure, but he isn't prepared for the cruel circus owner. The crowds that come to the circus see a lively animal who plays soccer and balances on milk bottles, but Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained when she's not performing and hurt with a hook until she learns tricks perfectly. Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can, knowing that the only way they will both survive is if he can find a way for them to escape.
“…an affecting animal story and a well-paced adventure.”--School Library Journal
"First novelist Kelly crafts a layered, convincing tale of interspecies friendship between individuals who care for each other within the confines of enslavement.”--Horn Book
“A heartfelt…addition to the literature promoting better treatment of our fellow animals.”--Kirkus
"Lynne Kelly has written a story that unwraps the heart and asks it to be brave, loyal, and above all, kind. Readers of all ages will worry for Hastin as he marks the wall that records his bondage to a cruel master, but they will ultimately celebrate his jubilant triumph. This story unwrapped my own heart." –Kathi Appelt, author of the Newbery Honor and New York Times bestseller The Underneath